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This  series  of  SCANDINAVIAN  MONOGRAPHS  is  published 
by  the  American-Scandinavian  Foundation  to  promote 
the  study  of  Scandinavian  history  and  culture,  in  the 
belief  that  true  knowledge  of  the  North  will  contrib- 
ute to  the  common  profit  on  both  sides  of  the  Atlantic 


















A  MONG  the  many  arguments  that  have  recently 
-L\.  been  advanced  in  support  of  imperialistic  am- 
bitions and  statesmanship,  there  is  one  that  justifies 
and  demands  aggression  in  the  interest  of  human 
culture.  According  to  this  rather  plausible  political 
philosophy,  it  is  the  destiny  of  the  smaller  states 
to  be  absorbed  into  the  larger  and  stronger.  The 
application  is  not  to  be  limited  to  the  so-called 
"  backward  races";  it  is  also  extended  to  the  lesser 
peoples  of  Europe.  JThese  have,  it  is  held,  no  real 
right  to  an  independent  existence;  only  the  great, 
the  powerful,  and  jjbf  ""flk+y  ^an^im  th*'?  priYlr, 
lege,  for  they  alone  are  able  to  render  the  higher 
forms  of  service  to  civilization. 

To   this   theory   thft   hiatniy.  of   foe   SngT^]'na.vJ5i.-n 
1fl.TlHs  r>TQVid**iSf  cl  COmpl^t**  fl'  st^kinpf  tvyf  1 1  tn/h  nr|  n 

In  the  drama  of  European  development  the  North- 
ern countries  have  played  important  and  honorable 
parts;  but  except  for  a  brilliant  period  in  Swedish 
history  (chiefly  during  the  seventeenth  century) 
they  have  never  weighed  heavily  in  the  Continental 
balance.  /Their  geographical  situation  is  unfavor- 
able and  their  economic  resources  have  never  been 
comparable  to  those  of  the  more  prominent  states 
beyond  the  Baltic  and  the  North  SeaA  But  when 


we  come  to  the  kingdom  of  intellect  the  story  is  a 
totally  different  one.  The  literary  annals  of  Europe 
in  the  nineteenth  century  give  prominence  to  a 
series  of (notahle_gcandinavian  writersWho  not  only 
achieved  recognition  in  their  own  lands  but  found 
a  place  in  the  competition  for  leadership  in  the 
world  at  large.  The  productivity  of  the  Northern 
mind  is  not  of  recent  origin,  however;  the  literatures 
of  Scandinavia  have  a  history  that  leads  back  into 
the  days  of  heathen  worship  more  than  a  thousand 
years  ago. 

Perhaps  the  most  effective  illustration  of  £vhat  a 
fruitful  intellect  can  accomplish  even  when  placed 
in  the  most  unpromising  environment  is  medieval 
IcelandLJ  Along  the  western  and  southwestern 
coasts  of  the  island  lay  a  straggling  settlement  of 
Norwegian  immigrants  whose  lives  were  spent 
chiefly  in  a  struggle  to  force  the  merest  subsistence 
from  a  niggardly  soil.  And  yet,  in  the  later  middle 
ages  and  even  earlier,  there  was  a  literary  activity 
on  these  Arctic  shores  which,  in  output  as  well  as 
in  quality,  compares  favorably  with  that  of  any  part 
of  contemporary  Europe.  {Evidently  intellectual 
greatness  bears  but  slight  relation  to  economic  ad- 
vantages or  political  powerj  What  was  true  of  Ice- 
land was  also  true  of  Norway,  though  in  a  lesser 
degree.  In  that  country,  too,  life  was  in  great 
measure  a  continuous  struggle  with  the  soil  and 
the  sea.  Still,  even  in  that  land  and  age,  the  spirits 


were  active,  the  arts  flourished,  and  the  North 
added  her  contribution  to  the  treasures  of  Euro- 
pean culture. 

The  poems  and  tales  of  those  virile  days,  the 
eddas  and  sagas,  are  too  familiar  to  need  more 
than  a  mention  in  this  connection.  But  the  fact 
is  not  so  commonly  known  that  the  medieval 
Northmen  were  thinkers  and  students  as  well  as 
poets  and  romancers.  They,  too,  were  interested  in 
the  mysteries  of  the  universe,  in  the  problems  of 
science,  and  in  the  intricate  questions  of  social  re- 
lationships. In  their  thinking  on  these  matters 

d    more   int.plWtiifl.1 

less  slavisJLregard  for  venerable  authority  thap  was 
usually  the  case  among  medieval  writers.  And  of 
all  the  men  who  in  that  agf  of  faif  K  tnVH  to  analyse 
and  set  in  order  their  ideas  of  the  world  in  which 
they  moved*  perhaps  none  drew  more  largely  on  his 
own  spiritual  J^sourcfis  than  the  unknown  author 
of  the  King's  Mirror. 

Unlike  the  sagas  and  related  writings,  the  pur- 
pose of  the  King's  Mirror  jg  utilitarian  and  didactic. 
The  author  has  before  him  a  group  of  serious  and 
important  problems,  which  he  proceeds  to  discuss 
for  the  instruction  of  his  readers.  Consequently, 
certain  qualities  of  style  that  are  often  associated 
with  Old  Norse  literature  are  not  apparent  in  his 
work  to  any  marked  degree.  In  his  effort  to  make 
his  language  clear,  definite,  and  intelligible,  the 


author  sometimes  finds  it  necessary  to  repeat  and 
restate  his  ideas,  with  the  result  that  his  literary 
style  is  frequently  stiff,  labored,  and  pedantic. 
These  defects  are,  however,  not  characteristic  of 
the  book  as  a  whole.  Many  of  its  chapters  display 
rare  workmanship  and  prove  that  the  author  of 
the  King's  Mirror  is  one  of  the  great  masters  of 
Old  Norse  prose. 

In  preparing  the  translation  of  this  unique  work, 
my  aim  has  been  to  reproduce  the  author's  thought 
as  faithfully  as  possible  and  to  state  it  in  such  a 
form  as  to  satisfy  the  laws  of  English  syntax.  But 
I  have  also  felt  that,  so  far  as  it  can  be  done,  the 
flavor  of  the  original  should  be  retained  and  that  a 
translator,  in  his  effort  to  satisfy  certain  conven- 
tional demands  of  modern  composition,  should  not 
deviate  too  far  from  the  path  of  mental  habit  that 
the  author  has  beaten  in  his  roamings  through  the 
fields  of  thought.  Peculiarities  of  style  and  expres- 
sion, can,  it  is  true,  usually  not  be  reproduced  in 
another  language;  at  the  same  time  it  is  possible  to 
ignore  these  considerations  to  such  an  extent  that 
the  product  becomes  a  paraphrase  rather  than  a 
translation;  and  I  have  believed  that  such  a  ren- 
dition should  be  avoided,  even  at  the  risk  of  erring 
on  the  side  of  literalness. 

The  importance  of  the  King's  Mirror  as  a  source 
of  information  in  the^study  of  medieval  though^) 
was  first  brought  to  my  attention  by  Professor 


Julius  E.  Olson  of  the  University  of  Wisconsin,  who 
has  also,  since  the  work  of  preparing  this  edition 
was  begun,  followed  its  progress  with  helpful  in- 
terest. Professors  G.  T.  Flom  and  A.  H.  Lybyer  of 
the  University  of  Illinois,  and  Professor  W.  H. 
Schofield  of  Harvard  University,  have  read  the 
manuscript  in  whole  or  part  and  have  contributed 
many  valuable  suggestions.  My  wife,  Lillian  May 
Larson,  has  assisted  in  a  great  variety  of  ways, 
as  in  all  my  work.  Dr.  H.  G.  Leach  of  the  Ameri- 
can-Scandinavian Foundation  has  read  the  proof 
sheets  of  the  entire  volume  and  has  suggested 
many  improvements  in  the  text.  To  all  these 
persons  I  wish  to  express  my  thanks.  I  am  also 
deeply  indebted  to  the  trustees  of  the  American- 
Scandinavian  Foundation  whose  generosity  has 
made  it  possible  to  publish  the  work  at  this  time. 

L.  M.  L, 

University  of  Illinois, 
August,  1917. 















DOM  " 


V.    THE  SUN  AND   THE  WINDS  86 


SUN  92 







KRAKEN  119 

















FIRST   PART  161 


HIS  COURT  162 







THE  KING  179 




HALL  186 

XXXIII.  THE   PROPER  USES  OF   "  YOU  "   AND   "  THOU  "  188 











XL.    THE    PROPER    MANNERS     AND     CUSTOMS     OF    A    ROYAL 


TORY 234 










OF  GOD  283 



























INDEX  373 



THE  place  of  the  thirteenth  century  in  the  history 
of  human  achievement  is  a  subject  upon  which 
scholars  have  not  yet  come  to  a  general  agreement. 
There  can  be  no  doubt  that  it  was,  on  the  whole,  an  age 
of  progress  in  many  fields;  but  there  is  much  in  its  his- 
tory that  points  to  stagnation,  if  not  to  actual  decline. 
From  a  superficial  study  of  its  annals  one  might  be  led 
to  class  it  with  the  lesser  centuries ;  most  writers  are  in- 
clined to  rank  it  lower  than  the  fourteenth  century,  and 
perhaps  not  even  so  high  as  the  twelfth.  It  was  in  this 
period  that  the  crusad^P  rnnvpmpnt.  finally  flicfcerfifj  ft1  it 
and  the  Christian  world  was  compelled  to  leave  the 
cradle  of  the  holy  faith  in  the  hands  of  the  infidel.  In  the 
thirteenth  century,  too,  the  medieval  empire  sank  into 
hopeless  inefficiency  and  all  but  expired.  Hue. papacy, 
which  more  than  any  other  power  was  responsible  for 
the  ruin  of  the  imperial  ambitions,  also  went  into  de- 
cline. Whether  the  loss  in  authority  and  prestige  on  the 
part  of  the  holy  sec^  was  compensated  by  a  renewed 
spiritual  energy  in  the  church  at  large  may  well  be 
doubted:  what  evidence  we  have  would  indicate  that 
the  religion  of  the  masses  was  gross  and  materialisticA 
that  ethical  standards  were  low,  and  that  the  improve-  ) 
ment  in  clerical  morals,  which  the  church  had  hoped  \ 
would  follow  the  enforcement  of  celibacy,  had  failed  to  \ 
appear.  J 


Yet  the  thirteenth  century  also  had  its  attractive  fig- 
ures and  its  important  movements.  The  old  social  order 

bnt  in  its  p1a.ce  Appeared  two 

fnrpps  wliiVh  wpre  to  inherit  tjip  power  a.nd  nppor- 

gnpjfl.1  ]jfp'  these  were 

wide  sovereign  powers,  and 

the  new  national  consciousness,  which  was  able  to  think 
in  larger  units.  In  England  the  century  saw  the  develop- 
ment of  a  new  representative  institution,  which  has  be- 
come the  mother  of  modern  legislative  assemblies.  The 
Italian  cities  were  growing  rich  from  the  profits  of  Ori- 
ental trade;  in  the  Flemish  towns  the  weaver's  industry 
was  building  up  new  forms  of  municipal  life;  the  great 
German  Hansa  was  laying  hold  on  the  commerce  of  the 
northern  seas.  In  the  realms  of  higher  intellect,  in 
science,  philosophy,  and  theology,  the  age  was  a  notable 
one,  with  Roger  Bacon,  Albertus  Magnus,  and  Thomas 
Aquinas  as  the  leaders,  each  in  his  field.  The  century 
also  meant  much  for  the  progress  of  geographical  knowl- 
edge, for  it  was  in  this  period  that  Marco  Polo  pene- 
trated the  mysterious  lands  of  the  Far  East. 

As  the  historian  looks  back  into  this  age,  he  is,  there- 
fore, able  to  find  broad  traces  of  much  that  is  regarded 
as  fundamental  to  modern  life.  Of  first  importance  in 
this  regard  i^the  employment  of  popular  idioms  in  liter- 
ary productions^French  literature  saw  its  beginnings  in 
the  eleventh  century  with  the  chansons  de  geste,  songs  of 
valorous  deeds  from  the  heroic  age  of  the  Frankish 
kingdom.  In  the  next  century  the  poets  began  to  use  the 
themes  of  the  Arthurian  legends  and  sang  the  exploits 
of  the  famous  British  king  and  the  knights  of  his  Round 


Table.  A  little  later  came  another  cycle  of  poems  based 
on  the  heroic  tales  of  classical  antiquity.  The  twelfth 
century  witnessed  a  parallel  movement  in  Germany, 
which  at  first  was  largely  an  imitation  of  contemporary 
French  poetry.  The  poets,  however,  soon  discovered 
literary  treasures  in  the  dim  world  of  the  Teutonic  past, 
in  the  tales  of  the  Nibelungs,  in  the  heroic  deeds  of 
Theodoric,  and  in  the  exploits  of  other  heroes. 

Thus  in  the  first  half  of  the  thirteenth  century  there 
was  a  large  body  of  French  and  German  verse  in  circu- 
lation. The  verses  were  borne  from  region  to  region  and 
from  land  to  land  by  professional  entertainers,  who 
chanted  the  poems,  and  by  pilgrims  and  other  travelers, 
who  secured  manuscript  copies.  In  the  course  of  time 
the  new  tales  reached  the  Northern  countries,  and  it 
was  not  long  before/the  Northmen  were  eagerly  listening 
to  the  stories  of  chivalrous  warfare,  militant  religion, 
and  tragic  love,  that  they  had  learned  in  the  southlands^ 

The  Northern  peoples  thus  had  a  share  in  the  fruitage 
of  the  later  middle  ages;  but  they  also  had  a  share  in 
their  achievements.  Politically  as  wpll  a 
the  thirt-mith  fpntnry  wn*  Q  £"Ta,t 

rmvifm  fmiintrimi  The  Danish  kingdom  rose  to  the  high- 
est point  of  its  power  under  Valdemar  the  Victorious, 
whose  troubled  reign  began  in  1202.  Valdemar  succeeded 
in  extending  the  territories  of  Denmark  along  the  entire 
southern  coast  of  the  Baltic  Sea;  but  the  greatness  was 
short-lived  :  after  the  defeat  of  the  Danes  by  the  North 
Germans  at  Bornhoved  in  1227,  the  decline  of  Danish 
imperialism  began.  In  Sweden,  too,  men  dreamed  of 
conquest  beyond  the  sea.  Under  the  leadership  of  Earl 


Birger,  the  most  eminent  statesman  of  medieval  Sweden, 
Swedish  power  was  steadily  extended  into  Finnish  ter- 
ritory, and  the  foundations  of  Sweden  as  a  great  Euro- 
pean power  was  being  laid. 

During  the  days  of  Valdemar  and  the  great  Birger 
Norway  also  reached  its  greatest  territorial  extent.  After 
a  century  of  factional  warfare,  the  nation  settled  down 
to  comparative  peace.  All  the  Norwegian  colonies  except 
those  in  Ireland,  were  definitely  made  subject  to  the 
Norwegian  crown :  these  were  the  Isle  of  Man,  the  Heb- 
rides, the  Orkneys,  the  Shetlands,  the  Faroes,  Iceland, 
and  Greenland.  In  every  field  of  national  life  there  was 
vigor  and  enterprise.  And  on  the  throne  sat  a  strong, 
wise,  and  learned  monarch,  Hakon  IV,  the  ruler  with 
the  "  great  king-thought." 

The  real  greatness  of  the  thirteenth  century  in  the 
North  lies,  however,  in  the  literary  achievements  of  the 
age.  It  is  not  known  when  the  Old  Norse  poets  first  be- 
gan to  exercise  their  craft,  but  the  earliest  poems  that 
have  come  down  to  us  date  from  the  ninth  century.  For 
two  hundred  years  the  literary  production  was  in  the 
form  of  alliterative  verse;  but  after  1050  there  came  a 
time  when  scaldic  poetry  did  not  seem  to  thrive.  This 
does  not  mean  that  the  interest  in  literature  died  out; 
it  merely  took  a  new  form:  the  age  of  poetry  was  fol- 
lowed by  an  age  of  prose.  With  the  Christian  faith  came 
the  Latin  alphabet  and  writing  materials,  and  there  was 
no  longer  any  need  to  memorize  verse.  The  new  form 
was  the  saga,  which  began  to  appear  in  the  twelfth 
century  and  received  many  notable  additions  in  the 
thirteenth.  The  literary  movement  on  the  continent, 


therefore,  had  its  counterpart  in  the  North;  only  here 
the  writings  took  the  form  of  prose,  while  there  liter- 
ature was  chiefly  in  verse. 

These  two  currents  came  into  contact  in  the  first 
half  of  the  thirteenth  century,  when  the  men  and  women 
of  the  North  began  to  take  an  interest  in  the  Arthurian 
romances  and  other  tales  that  had  found  their  way 
into  Norway.  In  this  new  form  of  Norwegian  literature 
there  could  not  be  much  originality;  still  its  appearance 
testifies  to  a  widening  of  the  intellectual  horizon.  In  ad- 
dition to  sagas  and  romances  the  period  was  also  pro- 
ductive of  written  laws,  homilies,  legends,  Biblical 
narratives,  histories,  and  various  other  forms  of  litera- 
ture. It  is  to  be  noted  that  virtually  everything  was 
written  in  the  idiom  of  the  common  people.  Latin  was 
used  to  some  extent  in  the  North  in  the  later  middle 
ages,  but  it  never  came  into  such  general  use  there 
as  in  other  parts  of  Europe.  In  the  thirteenth  century 
it  had  almost  passed  out  of  use  as  a  literary  language. 

In  our  interest  in  tales  and  romances  we  must  not 
overlook  the  fact  that  the  thirteenth  century  also  pro- 
duced an  important  literature  of  the  didactic  type.  For 
centuries  the  Christian  world  had  studied  the  encyclo- 
pedic works  of  Capella,  Cassiodorus,  and  Isidore,  or  had 
read  the  writings  of  Bede  and  his  many  followers  who 
had  composed  treatises  "  on  the  nature  of  things,"  in 
which  they  had  striven  to  set  in  order  the  known  or 
supposed  facts  of  the  physical  world.  The  thirteenth 
century  had  an  encyclopedist  of  its  own  in  Vincent  of 
Beauvais,  who  produced  a  vast  compendium  made  up 
of  several  Specula,  which  were  supposed  to  contain  all 


the  knowledge  that  the  world  possessed  in  science,  his- 
tory, theology,  and  other  fields  of  learning.  The  age  also 
produced  various  other  Latin  works  of  the  didactic  sort, 
of  which  the  Historia  Scholastica  of  Petrus  Comestor 
was  perhaps  the  most  significant  for  the  intellectual 
history  of  the  North. 

Norway  had  no  encyclopedist,  but  the  thirteenth 
century  produced  a  Norwegian  writer  who  undertook  a 
task  which  was  somewhat  of  the  encyclopedic  type. 
Some  time  during  the  reign  of  Hakon  IV,  perhaps  while 
Vincent  was  composing  his  great  Speculum  Majus,  a 
learned  Norseman  wrote  the  Speculum  Regale,  or  King's 
Mirror,  a  work  which  a  competent  critic  has  character- 
ized as  "  one  of  the  chief  ornaments  of  Old  Norse  litera- 
ture." *  Unlike  the  sagas  and  the  romances,  which  have 
in  view  chiefly  the  entertainment  of  the  reader,  the 
King's  Mirror  is  didactic  throughout;  in  a  few  chapters 
only  does  the  author  depart  from  his  serious  purpose, 
and  all  but  two  of  these  are  of  distinct  value.  The  pur- 

pffift  of  the  work  jfi  +n  prnvj/4*v  o  rwtmri  VJTirl 

edge  whickwilLLe  of  use  to  young  men  who  are  looking 
for  ward  Jam,  carper  Jn  the  higher  pjofegsions. 

As  outlined  in  the  introductory  chapter,  the  work  was 
to  deal  with  the  four  great  orders  of  men  in  the  Nor- 
wegian kingdom:  the  merchants  and  their  interests;  the 
king  and  his  retainers;  the  church  and  the  clergy;  and 
the  peasantry  or  husbandmen.  In  the  form  in  which  the 
King's  Mirror  has  come  down  to  modern  times,  how- 
ever, the  first  two  divisions  only  are  included;  not  the 
least  fragment  of  any  separate  discussion  of  the  clerical 

*  B.  Keyset  in  the  introduction  to  the  Christiania  edition  (p.  xi). 


profession  or  of  the  agricultural  classes  has  been  found. 
It  is,  therefore,  generally  believed  that  the  work  was  not 
completed  beyond  the  point  where  the  extant  manu- 
scripts close.  Why  the  book  was  left  unfinished  cannot 
be  known;  but  it  is  a  plausible  conjecture  that  illness  or 
perhaps  death  prevented  the  author,  who  was  appar- 
ently an  aged  man,  from  completing  the  task  that  he 
had  set  before  him.  It  is  also  possiblejthat  the  ideas  ex- 
pressed in  the  closing  chapters  of  the  work,  especially  in 
the  last  chapter,  which  deals  with  the  subject  of  clerical 
subordination  to  the  secular  powers,  weze  so  repugnant 
to  the  ecclesiastical  thought  of  the  time  that  the  au- 
thorities of  the  church  discouraged  or  perhaps  found 
means  to  prevent  the  continuation  of  the  work  into  the 
third  division,  where  the  author  had  planned  to  deal 
with  the  church  and  the  clergy. 

In  form  the  Speculum  is  a  dialog  between  a  wise  and 
learned  father  and  his  son,  in  which  the  larger  part  of 
the  discussion  naturally  falls  to  the  former.  The  son 
asks  questions  and  suggests  problems,  which  the  father 
promptly  answers  or  solves.  In  the  choice  of  form  there 
is  nothing  original:  the  dialog  was  frequently  used  by 
didactic  writers  in  the  middle  ages,  and  it  was  the 
natural  form  to  adopt.  The  title,  Speculum  Regale,  is 
also  of  a  kind  that  was  common  in  those  days.*  Specula 
of  many  sorts  were  being  produced :  Speculum  Ecclesiae, 
Speculum  Stultorum,  Speculum  Naturale,  and  Speculum 
Perfectionis  are  some  of  the  titles  used  for  writings  of  a 

*  It  is  believed  that  the  title  came  into  use  in  Europe  in  imitation  of 
Hindu  writers  who  wrote  "  Mirrors  of  Princes."  Nansen,  In  Northern  Mists, 
II,  242. 


didactic  type.  The  German  Sachsenspiegel  is  an  instance 
of  the  title  employed  for  a  work  in  a  vulgar  idiom.  There 
was  also  a  Speculum  Regum,  or  Mirror  of  Kings,  and  a 
century  later  an  English  ecclesiastic  wrote  a  Speculum 
Regis,  but  the  writer  knows  of  no  other  work  called  the 
Speculum  Regale. 

It  is  an  interesting  question  whether  the  King's  Mir- 
ror was  inspired  by  any  earlier  work  written  along  simi- 
lar lines.  Originality  was  a  rare  virtue  in  the  middle  ages, 
and  the  good  churchmen  who  wrote  books  in  those  days 
cannot  have  regarded  plagiarism  as  a  mortal  sin.  The 
great  writers  were  freely  copied  by  the  lesser  men, 
thoughts,  titles,  statements,  and  even  the  wording  being 
often  taken  outright.  It  is,  therefore,  difficult  to  deter- 
mine the  sources  of  statements  found  in  the  later  works, 
as  they  may  have  been  drawn  from  any  one  of  a  whole 
series  of  writings  on  the  subject  under  discussion.  The 
writer  has  not  been  able  to  make  an  exhaustive  examina- 
tion of  all  the  didactic  and  devotional  literature  of  the 
centuries  preceding  the  thirteenth,  but  the  search  that 
has  been  made  has  not  proved  fruitful.  There  is  every 
reason  to  believe  that  the  author  of  the  King's  Mirror 
was  an  independent  thinker  and  writer.  He  was  doubtless 
acquainted  with  a  large  number  of  books  and  had  drawn 
information  from  a  great  variety  of  sources;  but  when 
the  writing  was  actually  done  he  had  apparently  a  few 
volumes  only  at  his  disposal.  In  the  region  where  the 
work  seems  to  have  been  composed,  on  the  northern 
edge  of  European  civilization,  there  was  neither  cathe- 
dral nor  monastery  nor  any  other  important  ecclesias- 
tical foundation  where  a  collection  of  books  might  be 


found.*  It  is  likely,  therefore,  that  the  author  had 
access  to  such  books  only  as  were  in  his  own  posses- 
sion. But  he  came  to  his  task  with  a  well-stocked  mind, 
with  a  vast  fund  of  information  gathered  by  travel  and 
from  the  experiences  of  an  active  life;  and  thus  he  drew 
largely  from  materials  that  had  become  the  permanent 
possession  of  his  memory.  This  fact,  if  it  be  a  fact,  will 
also  help  to  explain  why  so  many  inaccuracies  have  crept 
into  his  quoted  passages ;  in  but  very  few  instances  does 
he  give  the  correct  wording  of  a  citation. 

There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  author  had  a  copy  of 
the  Vulgate  before  him;  at  least  one  Biblical  passage  is 
correctly  given,  and  it  is  quoted  in  its  Latin  form.f  It 
has  also  been  discovered  that  he  had  access  to  an  Old 
Norse  paraphrase  of  a  part  of  the  Old  Testament,  the 
books  of  Samuel  and  of  the  Kings,  t  It  is  likely  that  he 
was  also  acquainted  with  some  of  the  works  of  Saint 
Augustine,  and  perhaps  with  the  writings  of  certain 
other  medieval  authorities.  Among  these  it  seems  safe 
to  include  the  Disciplina  Clericalis,  a  collection  of  tales 
and  ethical  observations  by  Petrus  Alf onsus,  a  converted 
Jew  who  wrote  in  the  first  half  of  the  twelfth  century. 
The  Disciplina  is  a  somewhat  fantastic  production 
wholly  unlike  the  sober  pages  of  the  Speculum  Regale; 
nevertheless,  the  two  works  appear  to  show  certain 

*  There  must  have  been  important  collections  of  manuscripts  at  Nidaros 
(Trondhjern),  where  there  was  a  cathedral  and  several  monastic  institu- 
tions. The  King's  Mirror  was  probably  composed  in  Namdalen,  about  one 
hundred  miles  northeast  of  Nidaros.  See  below,  pp.  50-60. 
f  See  below,  p.  237. 

J  Storm,  "  Om  Tidsforholdet  mellem  Kongespeilet  og  Stjorn  saint  Barlaams 
Saga  " :  Arkivfar  nordisk  Filologi,  III,  83-88. 


points  of  resemblance  which  can  hardly  have  been  acci- 
dental. The  Disciplina  is  a  dialog  and  the  part  of  the 
son  is  much  the  same  as  in  the  King's  Mirror.  In  both 
works  the  young  man  expresses  a  desire  to  become  ac- 
quainted with  the  customs  of  the  royal  court,  inasmuch 
as  he  may  some  day  decide  to  apply  for  admission  to 
the  king's  household  service.*  The  description  of  courtly 
manners  and  customs  in  the  earlier  dialog,  though 
much  briefer  than  the  corresponding  discussion  in  the 
Norwegian  treatise,  has  some  resemblance  to  the  latter 
which  suggests  a  possible  relationship  between  the  two 

The  Norwegian  author  may  also  have  used  some  of 
the  many  commentaries  on  the  books  of  Holy  Writ,  in 
the  production  of  which  the  medieval  cloisters  were  so 
prolific.  Of  the  influence  of  Petrus  Comestor's  Historia 
Scholastica  the  writer  has  found  no  distinct  trace  in  the 
King's  Mirror;  but  one  can  be  quite  sure  that  he  knew 
and  had  used  the  Elucidarium  of  Honorius  of  Autun. 
The  Elucidarium  is  a  manual  of  medieval  theology 
which  was  widely  read  in  the  later  middle  ages  and  was 
translated  into  Old  Norse,  probably  before  the  King's 
Mirror  was  written.f  But  our  Norwegian  author  was 
not  a  slavish  follower  of  earlier  authorities:  in  his  use 
and  treatment  of  materials  drawn  from  the  Scriptures 
he  shows  remarkable  independence.  Remarkable  at 
least  is  his  ability  to  make  Biblical  narratives  serve  to 

*  See  Disciplina  Clericalis,  fabula  xxiv:  Migne,  Patrologia  Latina,  CLVII, 

t  A  fragment  of  the  Elucidarium,  comprising,  however,  the  greater  part  of 
the  work,  is  published  in  Annalerfor  nordisk  Oldkyndighed,  1852  and  1853;  in 
the  former  volume  a  Danish  translation  is  given;  the  latter  contains  the  Ice- 
landic text. 


illustrate  his/owj  theories  of  Norwegian  kingship.  He 
was  acquainted  with  some  of  the  legends  that  circulated 
through  the  church  and  made  effective  use  of  them. 
He  must  also  have  known  a  work  on  the  marvels  of 
Ireland  *  and  the  letter  of  Prester  John  to  the  Byzan- 
tine emperor,  f  in  which  that  mythical  priest-king  re- 
counts the  wonders  of  India.  But  the  chief  source  of 
his  work  is  a  long  life  full  of  action,  conflict,  thought, 
and  experience. 

The  importRTirp  of  thp  King's  Mirror  lies  in  the  in- 
sight that,  it  givps  into  the  ...state  of  culture  and  civiliqa- 
jJ2!L_flf  ft1**  N^rtk  in  thft  late**  midf^  flgfts-  The  interest 

follows  seven  different  lines  i^^^sjcaTsc^n^)  espe- 
cially such  matters  as  are  of  importance  to  navigators; 
geography/  particularly  the  geography  of  the  Arctic 
lands  and  waters;  the  organization  of  the  king's  house- 
hold and  the  privileges  and  duties  of  the  king's  hench- 
men; military  engines,  weapons,  and  armour  used  in 
offensive  and  defensive  warfare;  ethical  ideas,  especially 
rules  of  conduct  for  courtiers  and  merchants;  the  royal 
office,  the  duties  of  the  king  and  the  divine  origin  of 
kingship;  and  the  place  of  the  church  in  the  Norwegian 

In  one  of  his  earlier  chapters  the  author  enumerates 
the  chief  subjects  of  a  scientific  character  that  ought 
to  be  studied  by  every  one  who  wishes  to  Won™  a  suc- 
cessful merchant.  These  are  the  great  luminaries  of  the 
sky,  the  motions  and  the  paths  of  the  heavenly  bodies, 
the  divisions  of  time  and  the  changes  that  bring  the 
seasons,  the  cardinal  points  of  the  compass,  and  the 

*  See  below,  pp.  22-25.  f  See  below,  p.  101  (c.  viii). 


tides  and  currents  of  the  ocean.*J[n  discussing  these 
matters  he  is  naturally  led  to  a  statement  as  to  the  shape 
of  the  earth.  All  through  the  middle  ages  there  were 
thinkers  who  accepted  the  teachings  of  the  classical 
astronomers  who  had  taught  that  the  earth  is  round 
like  a  sphere;  but  this  belief  was  by  no  means  general. 
Bede  for  one  appears  to  have  been  convinced  that  the 
earth  is  of  a  spherical  shape,  though  he  explains  that, 
because  of  mountains  which  rise  high  above  the  surface, 
it  cannot  be  perfectly  round.f  Alexander  Neckam,  an 
English  scientist  who  wrote  two  generations  before  the 
King's  Mirror  was  composed,  states  in  his  Praise  of 
Divine  Wisdom  that  "  the  ancients  have  ventured  to 
believe  that  the  earth  is  round,  though  mountains  rise 
high  above  its  surface."  {  Neckam Js  own  ideas  on  this 
point  are  quite  confused  and  he  remains  discreetly  non- 

But  if  the  earth  is  a  globe,  there  is  every  reason  to  be- 
lieve in  the  existence  of  antipodes;  and _if  ^ere_are  an- 
tipodes, all  cannot  behold  Christ  coming  in  the  clouds 
on  the  final  day.  To  the  medieval  theologians,  at  least 
to  the  larger  number  of  them,  this  argument  disposed 
effectually  of  the  Ptolemaic  theory.  Job  does  indeed  say 
that  God  "  hangeth  the  earth  upon  nothing,"  §  and 
this  passage  might  point  to  a  spherical  form;  but  then 
the  Psalmist  affirms  that  He  "  stretched  out  the  earth 
above  the  waters,"  ||  and  this  statement  would  indicate 

*  C.  iv.  See  also  Larson,  "  Scientific  Knowledge  in  the  North  in  the  Thir- 
teenth Century  ":  Publications  of  the  Society  for  the  Advancement  of  Scandi- 
navian Study,  1, 139-146. 

t  De  Natura  Rerum,  c.  xlvi:  Migne,  Patrologia  Latina,  XC,  264-265. 
j  De  Naturis  Rerum,  441.  §  Job,  xxvi,  7.  1 1  Psalms,  cxxxvi,  6. 


that  the  inhabited  part  of  the  earth  is  an  island  floating 
upon  the  waters  of  the  great  Ocean,  by  which  it  is  also 
surrounded.  This  belief  was  generally  maintained  in 
the  earlier  centuries  of  the  classical  world,  and  it  had 
wide  acceptance  in  the  middle  ages.'  There  were  also 
those  who  held  that  beyond  and  around  the  outer  Ocean 
is  a  great  girdle  of  fire.  It  is  likely,  however,  that  many 
believed  with  Isidore  of  Seville  that  it  is  useless  to  spec- 
ulate on  subjects  of  this  sort.  '  Whether  it  [the  earth] 
is  supported  by  the  density  of  the  air,  or  whether  it  is 
spread  out  upon  the  waters  ...  or  how  the  yielding  air 
can  support  such  a  vast  mass  as  the  earth,  whether  such 
an  immense  weight  can  be  upheld  by  the  waters  without 
being  submerged,  or  how  the  earth  maintains  its  balance 
.  .  .  these  matters  it  is  not  permitted  any  mortal  to 
know  and  they  are  not  for  us  to  discuss."  * 

There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  author  of  tl\e  KinQ9§ 
Mirror  believed  in  the  Ptolemaic  theory  of  a  spherical 
n  speaking  of  our  planet  he  uses  the  term  jar- 
J(  earth-sphere.  In  an  effort  to  explain  why  some 
countries  are  hotter  than  others,  he  suggests  an  experi- 
ment with  an  apple.  It  is  not  clear  how  this  can  shed 
much  light  on  the  problem,  but  the  author  boldly  states 
the  point  to  be  illustrated:  "  From  this  you  may  infer 
that  the  earth-circle  is  round  like  a  ball."  J 

Toward  the  close  of  the  medieval  period  there  were 
certain  thinkers  who  attempted  to  reconcile  the  spheri- 
cal theory  with  the  belief  that  the  inhabited  part  of  the 
earth  is  an  island.  These  appear  to  have  believed  that 

*  De  Natura  Rerum  Liber,  c.  xlv:  Migne,  Palrologia  Latina,  LXXXIII,  1015. 
t  See  c.  xix.  J  See  c.  vii. 


the  earth  is  a  globe  partly  submerged  in  a  larger  sphere 
composed  of  water.*  The  visible  parts  of  the  earth  would 
rise  above  the  surrounding  ocean  like  a  huge  island,  and 
the  Biblical  passages  which  had  caused  so  much  diffi- 
culty could  thus  be  interpreted  in  accord  with  apparent 
facts.  It  is  quite  clear  that  the  author  of  the  King's 
Mirror  held  no  such  theory.  In  a  poetic  description  of 
how  the  eight  winds  form  their  covenants  of  friendship 
at  the  approach  of  spring,  he  tells  us  that  "  at  midnight 
the  north  wind  goes  forth  to  meet  the  coursing  sun  and 
leads  him  through  rocky  deserts  toward  the  sparse-built 
shores."  f  The  author,  therefore,  seems  to  believe 
that  the  earth  is  a  sphere,  that  there  are  lands  on  the 
opposite  side  of  the  earth,  and  that  these  lands  are  in- 
habited. He  also  understands  that  the  regions  that  lie 
beneath  the  midnight  course  of  the  sun  in  spring  and 
summer  must  be  thinly  populated,  as  the  sun's  path  on 
the  opposite  side  of  the  earth  during  the  season  of 
lengthening  days  is  constantly  approaching  nearer  the 

But  while  the  author  seems  to  accept  the  Ptolemaic 
theory  of  the  universe,  he  is  not  able  to  divest  his  mind 
entirely  of  current  geographical  notions.  There  can  be 
no  doubt  that  he  believed  in  the  encircling  outer  ocean, 
and  it  is  barely  possible  that  he  also  looked  with  favor 
on  the  belief  that  the  whole  was  encompassed  by  a  girdle 
of  fire.  On  this  point,  however,  we  cannot  be  sure:  he 
mentions  the  belief  merely  as  one  that  is  current,  not  as 
one  accepted  by  himself.  { 

*  Ruge,  Geschichle  des  Zeitalters  der  Enldeckungen,  97. 
t  C.  v.  J  C.  xix. 


It  was  commonly  held  in  the  middle  ages  that  the 
earth  is  divided  into  five  zones,  only  two  of  which  may 
be  inhabited.  This  was  a  theory  advanced  by  a  Greek 
scientist  in  the  fifth  century  before  our  era,*  and  was 
given  currency  in  medieval  times  chiefly,  perhaps, 
through  the  works  of  Macrobius.f  At  first  these  zones 
were  conceived  as  belts  drawn  across  the  heavens;  later 
they  came  to  be  considered  as  divisions  of  the  earth's 
surface.  It  will  be  noted  that  our  author  uses  the  older 
terminology  and  speaks  of  the  zones  as  belts  on  the 
heaven;  {  it  may  be  inferred,  therefore,  that  he  derived 
his  information  from  one  of  the  earlier  Latin  treatises 
on  the  nature  of  the  universe.  §  For  two  thousand  years 
it  was  believed  that  human  life  could  not  exist  in  the 
polar  and  torrid  zones.  Even  as  late  as  the  fifteenth 
century  European  navigators  had  great  fear  of  travel 
into  the  torrid  zone,  where  the  heat  was  thought  to 
grow  more  intense  as  one  traveled  south,  until  a  point 
might  be  reached  where  water  in  the  sea  would  boil. 
Tfrp  p.i]ffhm*  of  t.hf>  King's  Mirrnr  sppms  t.n  rfpnbt  all  this. 
He  regards  the  polar  zones  as  generally  uninhabitable; 
still,  he  is  sure  that  Greenland  lies  within  the  arctic 
zone;  and  yet,  Greenland  "  has  beautiful  sunshine  and 
is  said  to  have  a  rather  pleasant  climate."  ||  He  sees 
Henrly  the  phyairn.1  nnture  of  n.  rountry  mny 

TTin^h  to  do  V*k  Himptir  nrm  Hit  inns— Thfi  cold  of 

Iceland  he  ascribes  in  great  part  to  its  position  near 

*  Parmenides  of  Ela  (ca.  480  B.C.).  Nansen,  In  Northern  Mists,  I,  12. 

t  See  below,  p.  147  (c.  xix).  Cf.  Ibid.,  123. 

J  C.  xix. 

§  Probably  from  the  writings  of  Isidore,  who  speaks  of  the  zones  as  belts  on 

the  heavens.  Etymologiae,  iii,  c.  xliv;  xiii,  c.  vi;  De  Natura  Rentm,  c.  x. 

II  C.xix. 


Greenland:  "for  it  is  to  be  expected  that  severe  cold 
would  come  thence,  since  Greenland  is  ice-clad  beyond 
all  other  lands."  *  He  conceives  the  possibility  that  the 
south  temperate  zone  is  inhabited.  "And  if  people  live  as 
near  the  cold  belt  on  the  southern  side  as  the  Green- 
landers  do  on  the  northern,  I  firmly  believe  that  the 
north  wind  blows  as  warm  to  them  as  the  south  wind 
to  us.  For  they  must  look  north  to  see  the  midday  and 
the  sun's  whole  course,  just  as  we,  who  dwell  north  of 
the  sun,  must  look  to  the  south."  f 

On  the  questions  of  time  and  its  divisions  the  author 
of  the  King's  Mirror  seems  to  have  had  nearly  all  the 
information  that  the  age  possessed.  He  divides  the 
period  of  day  and  night  into  two  "  days  "  (dcegr)  of 
twelve  hours  each.  Each  hour  is  again  divided  into 
smaller  hours  called  ostenta  in  Latin.}  Any  division 
below  the  minute  he  apparently  does  not  know.  The 
length  of  the  year  he  fixes  at  365  days  and  six  hours, 
every  fourth  year  these  additional  hours  make  twenty- 
four  and  we  have  leap  year.§  The  waxing  and  waning  of 
the  moon  and  the  tidal  changes  in  the  ocean  are  also 
reckoned  with  fair  accuracy.  || 

Medieval  scientists  found  these  movements  in  the 
ocean  a  great  mystery.  Some  ascribed  the  tides  to  the 
influence  of  the  moon;  If  others  believed  that  they  were 
caused  by  the  collision  of  the  waters  of  two  arms  of  the 
ocean,  an  eastern  arm  and  a  western;  still  others 

*  C.  xiii.  f  C.  xxi.  J  C.  vi. 

%lUd.  \\Ibid. 

IT  The  Venerable  Bede  held  that  the  moon  is  in  some  way  responsible  for  the 

tides.  De  Natura  Rerum,  c.  xxxix:  Migne,  Patrologia  Latina,  XC,  258-259; 

see  also  iW.,  XC,  422-426  (De  Tempore  Ratione,  c.  xxix). 


imagined  that  somewhere  there  were  "  certain  cavern- 
like  abysses,  which  now  swallow  up  the  water,  and  now 
spew  it  forth  again."*  The  author  of  the  Speculum  has 
no  doubts  on  the  subject:  he  believes  that  the  tides  are 
due  to  the  waxing  and  waning  of  the  moon.f 

In  his  discussion  of  the  volcanic  fires  of  Iceland  he 
shows  that  on  this  subject  he  was  completely  under  the 
influence  of  medieval  conceptions.  He  has  heard  that 
Gregory  the  Great  believed  that  the  volcanic  eruptions 
in  Sicily  have  their  origins  in  the  infernal  regions.  Our 
author  is  inclined  to  question,  however,  that  there  is 
anything  supernatural  about  the  eruptions  of  Mount 
Etna;  but  he  is  quite  sure  that  the  volcanic  fires  of  Ice- 
land rise  from  the  places  of  pain.  The  fires  of  Sicily  are 
living  fires,  inasmuch  as  they  devour  living  materials, 
such  as  wood  and  earth;  those  of  Iceland,  on  the  other 
hand,  consume  nothing  living  but  only  dead  matter 
like  rock.  And  he  therefore  concludes  that  these  fires 
must  have  their  origin  in  the  realms  of  death. { 

The  author  has  a  suspicion  that  earthquakes  may  be 
due  to  volcanic  action,  but  he  offers  another  explana- 
tion, though  he  does  not  give  it  as  his  own  belief.  Down 
in  the  bowels  of  the  earth  there  is  probably  a  large  num- 
ber of  caverns  and  empty  passages.  "  At  times  it  may 
happen  that  these  passages  and  cavities  will  be  so  com- 
pletely packed  with  air  either  by  the  winds  or  by  the 
power  of  the  roaring  breakers,  that  the  pressure  of  the 
blast  cannot  be  confined,  and  this  may  be  the  origin  of 
those  great  earthquakes  that  occur  in  that  country."  § 

*  Alexander  Neckam,  De  Naturis  Rerum,  138.  f  C.  vi. 

J  C.  xiii.  §  Ibid. 


In  this  theory  there  is  nothing  new  or  original :  the  be- 
lief that  the  earth  is  of  a  spongy  constitution  and  that 
earthquakes  are  caused  by  air  currents  is  a  very  old  one, 
which  can  be  followed  back  through  the  writings  of 
Alexander  Neckam,*  the  Venerable  Bede,f  and  others, 
at  least  as  far  as  to  Isidore.!  The  elder  Pliny,  who  wrote 
his  Natural  History  in  the  first  century  of  the  Christian 
era,  seems  to  have  held  similar  views:  "  I  believe  there 
can  be  no  doubt  that  the  winds  are  the  cause -of  earth- 
quakes." § 

The  chapters  that  deal  with  the  northern  lights  are 
interesting  because  they  seem  to  imply  that  these  lights 
were  not  visible  in  those  parts  of  Norway  where  the 
King's  Mirror  was  written.  The  editors  of  the  Christi- 
ania  edition  of  this  work  call  attention  to  the  fact  that 
there  have  been  periods  when  these  phenomena  were 
less  prominent,  and  suggest  that  there  may  have  been 
such  a  period  in  the  thirteenth  century.  ||  The  author 
discusses  these  lights  as  one  of  the  wonders  of  Green- 
land, and  the  natural  inference  is  that  they  were  not 
known  in  Norway.  But  it  is  also  true  that  he  speaks  of 
whales  as  if  they  were  limited  to  the  seas  about  Iceland 
and  Greenland,  which  is  manifestly  incorrect.  It  is 
likely  that  the  author  merely  wishes  to  emphasize  the 
fact  that  the  northern  lights  appear  with  greater  fre- 
quency and  in  greater  brilliance  in  Greenland  than  any- 

*  De  Naturis  Rerum,  158. 

t  De  Natura  Rerum,  c.  xlix:  Migne,  Patrologia  Latina,  XC,  275-276. 

t  De  Natura  Rerum,  c.  xlvi:  Migne,  Patrologia  Latina,  LXXXIII,  1015.  See 

also  The  Christian  Topography  of  Cosmas  (written  about  547),  17-18;  Cosmas 

scoffs  at  the  theory. 

§  Naturalis  Historiae,  I,  201  (ii,  c.  Ixxix). 

||  P.  ix,  note. 


where  in  Norway.  He  gives  three  theories  to  account 
for  these  phenomena:  some  ascribe  them  to  a  girdle  of 
fire  which  encircles  the  earth  beyond  the  outer  ocean; 
others  hold  that  the  lights  are  merely  rays  of  the  sun 
which  find  their  way  past  the  edges  of  the  earth  while 
the  sun  is  coursing  underneath;  but  his  own  belief  is 
that  frost  and  cold  have  attained  to  such  a  power  in  the 
Arctic  that  they  are  able  to  put  forth  light.*  In  his 
opinion  cold  is  a  positive  force  as  much  as  heat  or  any 
other  form  of  energy.  To  the  men  of  the  author's  time 
there  was  nothing  strange  in  this  belief:  it  seems  to 
have  been  held  by  many  even  before  the  thirteenth 
century  that  ice  could  under  certain  conditions  produce 
heat  and  even  burn.f 

Among  the  author's  scientific  notions  very  little  that 
is  really  original  can  be  found.  It  is  Riant's  belief  that 
he  drew  to  some  extent  from  Oriental  sources,  the  lore 
of  the  East  having  come  into  the  North  as  the  spoil  of 
crusaders  or  as  the  acquisitions  of  Norwegian  pilgrims .{ 
It  may  be  doubted,  however,  whether  the  Saracenic 
contribution  is  a  real  one:  almost  everything  that  the 
author  of  the  Speculum  Regale  presents  as  his  belief  can 
be  found  in  the  Latin  scientific  manuals  of  the  middle 
ages.  He  alludes  to  the  writings  of  Isidore  of  Seville,  and 
*  C.  xix. 

t  Thus  Solinus  (pp.  xxxiv,  xxxvii,  236)  says  "  the  sea-ice  on  this  island  ig- 
nites itself  on  collision,  and  when  it  is  ignited  it  burns  like  wood."  See  Nan- 
sen,  In  Northern  Mists,  I,  193.  Adam  von  Bremen  (Gesta  Hammaburgensis 
Ecclesiae  Pontificum,  iv,  34)  writes:  "  they  report  this  remarkable  thing 
about  it  that  this  ice  appears  so  black  and  dry  that,  on  account  of  its  age,  it 
burns  when  it  is  kindled."  Ibid.  The  same  belief  appears  in  a  German  poem 
Meregarto:  "  Thereby  the  ice  there  becomes  so  hard  as  crystal,  that  they 
make  a  fire  above  it  till  the  crystal  glows."  Ibid.,  I,  181. 
t  Riant,  Expeditions  el  Pelerinages  des  Scandinavcs  en  Terre  Sainte,  440-441. 


there  can  be  little  doubt  that  he  was  acquainted  with 
the  ideas  of  the  great  Spaniard,  though  he  does  not  ac- 
cept them  all.  His  ideas  as  to  the  shape  of  the  earth  and 
the  probable  causes  of  earthquakes  may  have  been  de- 
rived from  the  writings  of  the  Venerable  Bede,  or  from 
one  of  his  numerous  followers.  The  divisions  of  time  are 
discussed  in  many  of  the  scientific  treatises  of  the  middle 
ages,  but  the  division  of  the  hour  into  sixtieths  called 
ostenta  is  probably  not  found  in  any  manual  written  be- 
fore the  ninth  century;  so  far  as  the  writer  has  been  able 
to  determine,  ostenta,  meaning  minutes,  first  appears  in 
the  works  -of  Rabanus  Maurus.* 

The  discussion  of  these  scientific  notions  has  its  chief 
value  in  showing  to  what  extent  the  Norwegians  of  the 
thirteenth  century  were  acquainted  with  the  best  theo- 
ries of  the  age  as  to  the  great  facts  of  the  universe.  The 
author's  own  contribution  to  the  scientific  learning  of 
his  time  lies  almost  exclusively  in  the  field  of  geography. 
"  Beyond  comparison  the  most  important  geographical 
writer  of  the  medieval  North,"  says  Dr.  Nansen,  "  and 
at  the  same  time  one  of  the  first  in  the  whole  of  medieval 
Europe,  was  the  unknown  author  who  wrote  the  King's 
Mirror.  ...  If  one  turns  from  contemporary  or  earlier 
European  geographical  literature,  with  all  its  supersti- 
tion and  obscurity,  to  this  masterly  work,  the  difference 
is  very  striking."  f  This  is  doubtless  due  to  the  fact  that 
pur  author  wfl^  riot.  «.  Roistered  mon^  who  was  content 
to  copy  the  ideas  and  expressions  of  his  predecessors  with 
such  changes  as  would  satisfy  a  theological  mind,  but  a 

*  Rabanus  Maurus  died  in  856. 

t  Nansen,  In  Northern  Mists,  II,  242. 


man  who  had  been  active  in  the  secular  world  and  was 
anxious  to  get  at  real  facts. 

Among  the  chapters  devoted  to  scientific  lore  the 
author  has  introduced  several  which  are  ostensibly  in- 
tended to  serve  the  purpose  of  entertainment;  the  author 
seems  to  fear  that  the  interest  of  his  readers  is  likely 
to  flag,  if  the  dry  recital  of  physical  facts  is  continued 
unbroken.  It  is  in  these  chapters,  which  profess  to  deal 
with  the  marvels  of  Norway,  Ireland,  Iceland,  Green- 
land, and  the  Arctic  seas,  that  he  introduces  his  geo- 
graphical data.  In  the  description  of  Greenland  are 
included  such  important  and  practical  subjects  as  the 
general  character  of  the  land,  the  great  ice  fields,  the 
products  of  the  country,  wild  animals,  and  a  few  facts 
from  the  economic  life  of  the  people.  In  the  chapters  on 
Iceland  the  author  limits  himself  to  certain  physical 
features,  such  as  glaciers,  geysers,  mineral  springs,  vol- 
canoes, and  earthquakes.  He  also  gives  a  "  description 
of  the  animal  world  of  the  northern  seas  to  which  there 
is  no  parallel  in  the  earlier  literature  of  the  world."  *  He 
enumerates  twenty-one  different  species  of  whales  f  and 
describes  several  of  them  with  some  fulness.  He  men- 
tions and  describes  six  varieties  of  seals  J  and  also  gives 
a  description  of  the  walrus.  The  marvelous  element  is 
represented  by  detailed  accounts  of  the  "  sea-hedges  " 
(probably  sea  quakes)  on  the  coasts  of  Greenland,  the 

*  Nansen,  In  Northern  Mists,  II,  243. 

t  Ibid.  "  If  we  make  allowance  for  three  of  them  being  probably  sharks  and 
for  two  being  perhaps  alternative  names  for  the  same  whale,  the  total  corre- 
sponds to  the  number  of  species  that  are  known  in  northern  waters." 
%  Ibid.  This  "  corresponds  to  the  number  of  species  living  on  the  coasts  of 
Norway  and  Greenland." 


merman,  the  mermaid,  and  the  kraken.*  But  on  the 
whole  these  chapters  give  evidence  of  careful,  discrimi- 
nating observation  and  a  desire  to  give  accurate  knowl- 

For  all  but  the  two  chapters  on  Ireland  the  sources  of 
the  author's  geographical  information  are  evidently  the 
tales  of  travelers  and  his  own  personal  experiences;  of 
literary  sources  there  is  no  trace.  The  account  of  the 
marvels  of  Ireland,  however,  gives  rise  to  certain  prob- 
lems. It  may  be  that  the  Norwegian  geographer  based 
these  chapters  on  literary  sources  that  are  still  extant, 
or  he  may  have  had  access  to  writings  which  have  since 
disappeared.  It  is  also  possible  that  some  of  the  infor- 
mation was  contributed  by  travelers  who  sailed  the 
western  seas  and  had  sojourned  on  the  "  western  isles ;  " 
for  it  must  be  remembered  that  Norway  still  had  colo- 
nies as  far  south  as  the  Isle  of  Man,  and  that  Norsemen 
were  still  living  in  Ireland,  though  under  English  rule. 
When  Hakon  IV  made  his  expedition  into  these  regions 
in  1263,  some  of  these  Norwegian  colonists  in  Ireland 
sought  his  aid  in  the  hope  that  English  rule  might  be 

It  has  long  been  known  that  many  of  the  tales  of 
Irish  wonders  and  miracles  that  are  recounted  in  the 
Speculum  Regale  are  also  told  in  the  Topographia  Hiber- 
nica  by  Giraldus  Cambrensis.  The  famous  Welshman 
wrote  his  work  several  decades  before  the  King's  Mirror 
was  composed;  and  it  is  not  impossible  that  the  author 
of  the  latter  had  access  to  the  "  Irish  Topography." 
Moreover,  the  Speculum  Regale  and  the  Topographia 

*  Cc.  xii,  xvi.  f  Hdkonar  Saga,  c.  322. 


Hibernica  have  certain  common  features  which  corre- 
spond so  closely  that  literary  kinship  seems  quite  prob- 
able. The  resemblances,  however,  are  not  so  much  in  the 
details  as  in  the  plan  and  the  viewpoint.  In  the  second 
book  of  his  "  Topography,"  Giraldus  recounts  "  first 
those  things  that  nature  has  planted  in  the  land  itself;  " 
and  next  "  those  things  that  have  been  miraculously 
performed  through  the  merits  of  the  saints."  *  The  au- 
thor of  the  King's  Mirror  has  adopted  a  similar  group- 
ing. After  having  discussed  some  of  the  wonders  of  the 
island  he  continues:  "  There  still  remain  certain  things 
that  may  be  thought  marvelous;  these,  however,  are 
not  native  to  the  land  but  have  originated  in  the  miracu- 
lous powers  of  holy  men."f  This  correspondence  in  the 
general  plan  is  too  remarkable  to  be  wholly  accidental; 
at  least  it  should  lead  us  to  look  for  other  resemblances 

In  his  general  description  of  Ireland  the  author  of 
the  Norwegian  work  calls  attention  to  the  excellence  of 
the  land  and  its  temperate  climate:  "  for  all  through  the 
winter  the  cattle  find  their  feed  in  the  open."  J  Giraldus 
informs  us  that  grass  grows  in  winter  as  well  as  in  sum- 
mer, and  he  adds:  "  therefore  they  are  accustomed  nei- 
ther to  cut  hay  for  fodder  nor  to  provide  stables  for  the 
cattle."  §  Both  writers  emphasize  the  fact  that  grapes 
do  not  grow  on  the  island.  In  both  writings  attention  is 
called  to  the  sacred  character  of  the  Irish  soil,  which 
makes  it  impossible  for  reptiles  and  venomous  animals 
to  live  on  the  land,  though  Giraldus  has  his  doubts  as 
to  the  supernatural  phase  of  the  matter.  Both  writers 

*  Topographia  Hibernica,  ii,  introd.:  Opera,  V,  74.  f  C.  xi. 

t  c.  x.  §  Topographia  Hibernica,  i,  c.  xxxiii:  Opera,  V,  67. 


add  that  if  sand  or  dust  is  brought  from  Ireland  to 
another  country  and  scattered  about  a  reptile,  it  will 
perish.*  Both  characterize  the  Irish  people  as  savage 
and  murderous,  but  they  also  call  attention  to  their 
kind  treatment  of  holy  men,  of  whom  the  island  has 
always  had  many.f  In  fact,  every  statement  in  the 
King's  Mirror  as  to  the  nature  of  the  land  and  the 
character  of  the  inhabitants  can  be  duplicated  in  Giral- 
dus' description  of  Ireland,  except,  perhaps,  the  single 
observation  that  the  Irish  people,  because  of  the  mild- 
ness of  the  climate,  often  wear  no  clothes. 

But  even  if  Giraldus'  work  is  to  be  regarded  as  one  of 
the  sources  which  the  Norwegian  author  may  have  used 
in  writing  his  chapters  on  the  Irish  mirabilia,  it  cannot 
have  been  the  only  or  even  the  principal  source.  The 
account  of  these  marvels  in  the  King's  Mirror  does  not 
wholly  agree  with  that  of  the  Welshman's  work.  In  some 
instances  the  wonders  are  told  with  details  that  are 
wanting  in  the  earlier  narrative.  Frequently,  too,  the 
Norwegian  version  is  more  explicit  as  to  localities  and 
gives  proper  names  where  Giraldus  has  none.  It  also 
records  marvels  and  miracles  which  are  not  found  in  the 
Topographia  Hibernica. 

In  an  edition  of  the  Irish  Nennius  the  editor  has 
added  as  an  appendix  a  brief  account  of  the  "  Wonders 
of  Ireland,"  many  of  the  tales  of  which  have  interesting 
parallels  in  the  King's  Mirror.  There  is  also  a  medieval 
poem  on  the  same  theme  t  which  contains  allusions  to 
much  that  the  Norwegian  author  has  recorded  with 

*  Giraldus,  Opera,  V,  62-64;  King's  Mirror,  c.  x. 

t  Topographia  Hibernica,  Hi,  c.  28;  King's  Mirror,  c.  x. 

t  See  Wright-Halliwell,  Reliquiae  Antiquae,  II,  103-107. 


greater  fulness.  Neither  of  these  works,  however,  can 
have  been  the  source  from  which  the  chapters  on  Ireland 
in  the  Speculum  Regale  have  been  derived. 

The  learned  editors  of  the  Christiania  edition  of  the 
King's  Mirror  reached  the  conclusion  that  the  author 
did  not  draw  from  any  literary  source  but  derived  his 
information  from  current  tales  and  other  oral  accounts.* 
This  is  also  the  opinion  of  Dr.  Kuno  Meyer,  the  emi- 
nent student  of  Celtic  philology.f  Dr.  Meyer  bases  his 
belief  on  the  form  of  the  Irish  proper  names.  As  written 
in  the  Speculum  Regale  they  can  not  have  been  copied, 
as  the  spelling  is  not  normally  Irish;  he  believes,  there- 
fore, that  they  show  an  effort  on  the  author's  part  to 
reproduce  phonetically  these  names  as  he  heard  them 
spoken.  But  this  theory  ignores  the  fact  that  in  writing 
them  the  author  employs  combinations  of  consonants 
which  are  unusual  to  say  the  least.  Combinations  of  ch 
and  gh  are  used  in  writing  nearly  all  the  Irish  proper 
names  that  occur  in  the  King's  Mirror  and  the  ^-com- 
bination is  found  nowhere  else  in  the  work.  J  It  was 
probably  coming  into  the  language  in  the  century  to 
which  the  work  is  credited,  but  the  author  uses  it  only 
as  indicated  above.  It  seems  likely,  therefore,  that  he 
had  access  to  a  written  source,  though  it  is  also  likely 
that  he  did  not  have  this  account  before  him  when  the 
writing  was  actually  done.  As  has  already  been  stated, 

*  P.  x.  f  Erin,  IV.,  14-16. 

J  In  a  letter  to  the  writer  Professor  Meyer  expresses  the  belief  that  the  use 
of  gh  in  the  Irish  proper  names  is  an  invention  by  the  author.  The  combina- 
tion of  c  and  h  is  also  used  in  certain  other  proper  names,  the  system  varying 
in  the  different  manuscripts.  For  a  discussion  of  the  writing  of  proper  names 
in  the  chief  manuscript,  see  the  American  Facsimile  Edition  of  the  Konungs 
Skuggsjd  (edited  by  G.  T.  Flom),  xxxvii-xxxix. 


the  author  seems  to  have  written  largely  from  memory, 
and  his  memory  is  not  always  accurate. 

Having  discussed  the  subjects  which  he  considers  of 
chief  importance  for  the  education  of  a  merchant,  the 
learned  father  proceeds  to  describe  jj}£-  king's 

hold  anH  jt.s  nrgfl.nigfl.t.i'on,  the 

at  n.mirtfc1  and  fa*  business  thai,  is 

before  a  king.  For  the  part  which  deals  with  the  royal 
court,  it  is  probable  that  no  literary  sources  were  used. 
The  author  evidently  wrote  from  long  experience  in  the 

king's  rvitirmg-  frg  is  rmt  rh'gr»ngging  an  irl^ft]  organisation 

hr>"«**holr|  as  it  was  in  J^ergpTi 

n  his  own  ^fly  If  he  drew  from  any  written  de- 
scription of  courtly  manners,  it  may  have  been  from 
some  book  like  Petrus  Alfonsus'  Disciplina  Clericalis, 
which  has  already  been  mentioned  *  and  which  seems 
to  have  had  a  wide  circulation  throughout  western 
Europe  in  the  later  middle  ages. 

The  chapters  that  are  devoted  to  the  discussion  0f  the 
duties  and  activities  ^4-4h^  king*f  guaHsm^n^  to  the 
manners  and  fiuptoT^0  whirh  sh^iiM  -nil0  ir  t"h°  kf^g'0 
jgaxiJb,  and  to  the  ethical  ideas  on  which  these  were 
largely  based  are  of  great  interest  to  the  student  of  me- 
•^  dieval  culture.  They  reveal  a,  progress  in  the  direction 
^\  j)f  rf>-finp^|  ]f"ff>  find  .po^gn^>.irl  Ty>ATinpr.^  which  one  should 
scarcely  expect  to  find  in  the  Northern  lands.  JThe  de= 
velopment  of  courtes}^  and  refined  manners  may  have 
been  accelerated  by  the  new  literature  which  was  com- 
ing into  Scandinavia  from  France  and  Germany,  a 
literature  that  dealt  so  largely  with  the  doings  of 

*  See  above,  pp.  9-10. 


Jgniffhts  and  kings:*  but  it  was  probably  not  so  much  a 
matter  of  bookish  instruction  as  of  direct  imitation.  The 
Northmen,  though  they  lived  far  from  the  great  centers 
of  culture,  were  always  in  close  touch  with  the  rest  of 
the  world.  In  the  earlier  centuries  the  viking  sailed  his 
dreaded  craft  wherever  there  was  wealth  and  plunder 
and  civilized  life.  After  him  and  often  as  his  companion 
came  the  merchant  who  brought  away  new  ideas  along 
with  other  desirable  wares.  After  a  time  Christianity 
was  introduced  from  the  southlands,  and  the  pilgrim 
and  the  crusader  took  the  place  of  the  heathen  pirate. 
And  all  these  classes  helped  to  reshape  the  life  of  cour- 
tesy in  the  Northern  countries. 

It  is  difficult  to  overestimate  the  influence  of  the 
crusader  as  a  pioneer  of  Christian  culture  in  Scandina- 
via, but  it  seems  possible  that  the  pilgrim  was  even  more 
important  in  this  respect.  It  was  no  doubt  largely 
through  his  journeys  that  German  influences  began  to 
be  felt  in  the  Scandinavian  lands,  though  it  is  possible 
that  the  wide  activities  of  the  Hanseatic  merchants 
should  also  be  credited  with  some  importance  for  the 
spread  of  Teutonic  culture.  It  is  told  in  the  King's 
Mirror  that  a  new  mode  of  dressing  the  hair  and  the 
beard  had  been  introduced  from  Germany  since  the 
author  had  retired  from  the  royal  court. f  It  is  signifi- 
cant that  the  routes  usually  followed  by  Norwegian 
pilgrims  who  sought  the  Eternal  City  and  the  holy 
places  in  the  Orient  ran  through  German  lands.  As  a 
rule  the  pilgrims  traveled  through  Jutland,  Holstein, 
and  the  Old  Saxon  territories  and  reached  the  Rhine  at 

*  See  above,  pp.  2-3.  f  C.  rxx. 


Mainz.  It  was  also  possible  to  take  a  more  easterly 
route,  and  sometimes  the  travelers  would  go  by  sea  to 
the  Low  Countries  and  thence  southward  past  Utrecht 
and  Cologne;  but  all  these  three  routes  converged  at 
Mainz,  whence  the  journey  led  up  the  Rhine  and  across 
the  Alps.  It  will  be  noted  that  a  long  stretch  of  the  jour- 
ney from  Norway  to  Rome  would  lead  through  the 
German  kingdom.  Concerning  the  people  of  the  Old 
Saxon  or  German  lands  an  Icelandic  scribe  makes  the 
following  significant  remark:  "  In  that  country  the 
people  are  more  polished  and  courteous  than  in  most 
places  and  the  Northmen  imitate  their  customs  quite 
generally."  * 

The  cultural  influences  which  followed  in  the  wake  of 
the  returning  crusaders  were  no  doubt  largely  of  Frank- 
ish  origin.  As  a  rule  the  crusading  expeditions  followed 
the  sea  route  along  the  coasts  of  France  and  the  Spanish 
peninsula;  thus  the  Northern  warriors  came  in  contact 
with  French  ideas  and  customs  in  the  Frankish  home- 
land as  well  as  in  the  Christian  armies,  which  were 
largely  made  up  of  enthusiastic  and  venturesome 
knights  from  Frankland.  The  author  of  the  King's 
Mirror  urges  his  son  to  learn  Latin  and  French,  "  for 
these  idioms  are  most  widely  used."  f 

One  of  the  reasons  why  the~son  wishes  to  master  the 
mercantile  profession! is  that  he  desires  to  travel  and 

*  Nikolas  Ssemundarson,  abbot  of  Thingeyrar,  who  made  a  journey  to  the 
Holy  Land  about  1151,  wrote  an  itinerary  for  the  use  of  pilgrims  from  which 
the  above  quotation  is  taken.  The  itinerary  is  summarized  in  Riant,  Exp6- 
ditions  et  Pelerinages  des  Scandinaves  en  Terre  Sainte,  80-87. 
t  C.  iii.  It  is  likely  that  English  culture  found  its  way  into  the  North  along 
with  the  French.  When  King  Sigurd  sailed  to  the  Orient  in  1107,  he  spent 
the  winter  of  1107-1108  at  the  English  court. 


learn  the  customs  of  other  lands.*  In  the  thirteenth 
century  the  Norwegian  trade  still  seems  to  have  been 
largely  with  England  and  the  other  parts  of  the  British 
Isles.  It  is  also  important  to  remember  that  the  Nor- 
wegian church  was  a  daughter  of  the  church  of  England, 
and  that  occasionally  English  churchmen  were  elevated 
to  high  office  in  the  Norwegian  establishment.  It  is 
likely  that  Master  William,  who  was  Hakon  IV's  chap- 
lain, was  an  Englishman;  at  least  he  bore  an  English 

Information  as  to  foreign  civilization  and  the  rules  of 
courteous  behavior  could  also  pass  from  land  to  land 
and  from  court  to  court  with  the  diplomatic  missions 
of  the  time.  The  wise  father  states  that  envoys  who  I 
come  and  go  are  careful  to  observe  the  manners  that    \ 
obtain  at  the  courts  to  which  they  are  sent.f  Frequent     \ 
embassies  must  have  passed  between  the  capitals  of 
England  and  Norway  in  the  thirteenth  century.  It  is 
recorded  that  both  King  John  and  his  son  Henry  III  re- 
ceived envoys  from  the  king  of  Norway,  and  that  they 
brought  very  acceptable  gifts,  such  as  hawks  and  elks,§ 
especially  the  former:  in  twelve  different  years  Hakon 
IV  sent  hawks  to  the  English  king.|| 

Embassies  also  came  quite  frequently  from  the  im- 
perial court  in  Germany.  It  was  during  the  reign  of 
Hakon  IV  that  the  Hohenstaufens  were  waging  their 
last  fight  with  the  papacy,  and  both  sides  in  the  conflict 
seemed  anxious  to  secure  the  friendship  of  the  great 

*  C.  iii.  t  Bdkonar  Saga,  c.  228.  J  C.  xxix. 

§  Rotuli  Litterarum  Clausarum,  I,  382,  506,  509. 

1 1  Olafsen,  "  Falkefangsten  i  Norge  " :  Histarisk  Tidsskrift,  Femte  Rsekke,  III, 



Norwegian  king.  The  Saga  of  Hakon  relates  that  early 
in  the  king's  reign  "  missions  began  between  the  em- 
peror and  King  Hakon."  *  In  1241,  "  when  King  Hakon 
came  to  the  King's  Crag,  that  man  came  to  him  whose 
name  was  Matthew,  sent  from  the  emperor  Frederick 
with  many  noble  gifts.  Along  with  him  came  from 
abroad  five  Bluemen  (negroes)." f  Just  how  acceptable 
such  a  gift  would  be  in  medieval  Norway  the  chronicler 
does  not  state.  There  can  be  no  doubt,  however,  that 
Hakon  returned  the  courtesy.  The  saga  mentions  several 
men  who  were  sent  on  flipl  nm  aj-.j  c  erra.n  fa  to  the  imperial 
court.  One  of  these(eniissarl^  had  to  go  as  far  as  Sicily, 
"  and  the  emperor  received  him  well."! 


The  King's  Mirror  states  that 

kings  fin^  i*  ripppggpry  f,o 

Q£  pnmmr>Ti 

thf>  mpm^pi  of  thp  variou 

nrrrfully  thfr  tniitQintii  mH  mnnnrn  of  th^  other  groups^ 
These  meetings  were  usually  held  at  some  point  near 
the  mouth  of  the  Gota  River,  where  the  boundaries  of 
the  three  kingdoms  touched  a  common  point.  In  1254 
such  a  meeting  was  held  at  which  Hakon  of  Norway, 
Christopher  of  Denmark,  and  the  great  Earl  Birger 
of  Sweden  were  in  attendance  with  their  respective 
retinues.  1  1 

j^The  kings  of  the  North  were  not  limited,  however,  in 
their  diplomatic  intercourse  to  the  neighboring  monarch- 
ies; their  ambassadors  went  out  to  the  remotest  parts 

*  Hdkonar  Saga,  c.  191.  f  Und-,  c.  243.  J  Ibid.,  c.  191. 

§  C.  xxix.  1  1  Hdkonar  Saga,  c.  281. 


of  Europe  and  even  to  Af ricaJ  Valdemar  the  Victorious, 
in  his  day  one  of  the  greatest  rulers  in  Christendom, 
married  as  his  first  wife  Dragomir,  a  Bohemian  princess 
who  brought  the  Dagmar  name  into  Denmark,  and 
took  as  his  second  consort  Berengaria  of  Portugal, 
Queen  Bengjerd,  whose  lofty  pride  is  enshrined  in  the 
Danish  ballads  of  the  age.  Hakon  IV  married  the  daugh- 
ter of  his  restless  rival,  Duke  Skule;  but  his  daughter 
Christina  was  sought  in  marriage  by  a  prince  in  far- 
away Spain.  The  luckless  princess  was  sent  to  Castile 
and  was  married  at  Valladolid  to  a  son  of  Alfonso  the 
Wise.*  Louis  IX  of  France  was  anxious  to  enlist  the 
support  of  the  Norwegian  king  for  his  crusading  ven- 
tures and  sent  the  noted  English  historian  Matthew 
Paris  to  present  the  matter  to  King  Hakon. f  The  mis- 
sion, however,  was  without  results.  Norwegian  diplo- 
macy was  concerned  even  with  the  courts  of  the  infidel : 
in  1262  an  embassy  was  sent  to  the  Mohammedan  sultan 
of  Tunis  "  with  many  falcons  and  those  other  things 
which  were  there  hard  to  get.  And  when  they  got  out 
the  Soldan  received  them  well,  and  they  stayed  there 
long  that  winter."! 

An  important  event  of  the  diplomatic  type  was  the 
coming  of  Cardinal  William  of  Sabina  as  papal  legate 
to  crown  King  Hakon.  The  coronation  ceremony  was 
performed  in  Bergen,  July  29,  1247.  At  the  coronation 
banquet  the  cardinal  made  a  speech  in  which,  as  the 
Saga  of  Hakon  reports  his  remarks,  he  called  particular 
attention  to  the  polished  manners  of  the  Northmen. 

*  Hdkonar  Saga,  c.  294.  f  Matthew  Paris,  Chronica  Majora,  IV,  651-652. 
t  Hdkonar  Saga,  c.  313. 


"  It  was  told  me  that  I  would  here  see  few  men;  but 
even  though  I  saw  some,  they  would  be  liker  to  beasts 
in  their  behaviour  than  to  men;  but  now  I  see  here  a 
countless  multitude  of  the  folk  of  this  land,  and,  as  it 
seems  to  me,  with  good  behaviour."  *  Tf  the  King's 
g""»«  *  ™rrpnt  statement  of  what  was  ronntM 
nnH  prnpff  finnf1"**  nt  t}lp 

lY,  the  ^iHrr1'0  i"""0**  1<c  TinTin  +nn  ntiTinTlg- 

As  a  part  of  his  discussion  of  the  duties  and  activities 
of  the  king's  henchmen,  the  author  describes  the  mili- 
tary methods  of  the  age,  arms  and  armour,  military 
engines  and  devices  used  in  offensive  and  defensive 
warfare,  and  other  necessary  equipment.!  He  also  dis- 
cusses the  ethics  of  the  military  profession  to  some  ex- 
tent. This  part  of  the  work  has  been  made  the  subject  of 
a  detailed  study  by  Captain  Otto  Blom  of  the  Danish 
artillery,  who  has  tried  to  fix  a  date  for  the  composition 
of  the  King's  Mirror  on  the  basis  of  these  materials.!  It 
is  not  likely,  however,  that  the  work  describes  the  mili- 
tary art  of  the  North;  such  an  elaborate  system  of  equip- 
ment and  such  a  variety  of  military  engines  and  devices 
the  Norwegians  probably  never  knew  at  any  time  in 
the  middle  ages.  It  is  the  military  art  of  Europe  which 
the  author  describes,  especially  the  war  machinery  of  the 
crusades.  One  should  not  be  surprised  to  find  that  he 
had  knowledge  of  the  devices  which  were  employed  by 
the  Christian  hosts  in  their  warfare  against  the  infidel 
in  the  Orient.  The  crusades  attracted  the  Norwegian 
warriors  and  they  took  a  part  in  them  almost  from  the 

*  Hdkonar  Saga,  c.  255.  (Dasent's  translation.) 

t  Cc.  xxxviii-xxxix.  J  See  below,  pp.  62-63. 


beginning.  The  fifth  crusade  began  in  1217,  the  year  of 
Hakon  IV's  accession  to  the  kingship.  Several  Nor- 
wegian chiefs  with  their  followers  joined  this  movement, 
some  marching  by  land  through  Germany  and  Hungary, 
while  others  took  the  sea  route.  One  is  tempted  to  be- 
lieve that  the  author  was  himself  a  crusader,  but  it  is 
also  possible  that  he  got  his  information  as  to  the  mili- 
tary art  of  the  south  and  east  from  warriors  who  re- 
turned from  those  lands. 

From  the  subject  of  proper  behavior  and  good  breed- 
ing the  author  passes  to  a  discussion  of_pvil  conduct  and 
its  pflfc^t  on  thtt  wHfnre  ^  *k*>  kingdom,  Many  causes, 
he  tells  us,  may  combine  to  bring  calamities  upon  a 
land,  and  if  the  evils  continue  any  length  of  time,  the 
realm  will  be  ruined.*  There  may  come  dearth  upon  the 
fields  and  the  fishing  grounds  near  the  shores;  plagues 
may  carry  away  cattle,  and  the  huntsman  may  find  a 
scarcity  of  game;  but  worst  of  all  is  the  dearth  which 
sometimes  comes  upon  the  intellects  and  the  moral 
nature  of  men.  As  a  prolific  source  of  calamities  of  the 
last  sort,  the  author  mentions  the  jnst-itllt-1'™1  "f  joint 

kingship,  *V>^  wila  nf  whinh  h^  rlisniigggg  a.f  cnm^  Ipngth 

His  chapter  on  this  subject  is  an  epitome  of  Norwegian 
history  in  the  twelfth  century  when  joint  kingship  was 
the  rule. 

to  the  laws  of  medieval  Norway  before- 

allo.dial  possession  and  was  inherited  by  his  sons,  at  his 
death.  All  his  sons  were  legaLheir&y-tko&e.ol  illegitimate 
birth  as  well  as  .those  j^JxajKereuho 



there  was  mo££jJia,n  one  hJejr3_theJkingsHp  was  helc 
all  the  *»i«"'nr»mt«  rpr»pivinff  th^  . 

permissioaJaunaintain  e«^  *"'*  »wn  household  Usually 
a  part  of  the  realm  was  assigned  to  each;  but  it  was  the 
not  th*>  imgHnm  itself,  which 

seen  that^nch  a  system  would 

rights  were  at-Jbest  of  a,  doubtful 
the  Norwegian  throne.  It  is  an  interesting  fact  that  two 
of  these,  the  strenuous  Sverre  and  the  wise  Hakon  IV, 
must  be  counted  among  the  strongest,  ablest,  and  most 
attractive  kings  in  the  history  of  Norway. 

Though  there  had  been  instances  of  joint  rule  before 
the  twelfth  century,  the  history  of  that  unfortunate 
form  of  administration  properly  begins  with  the  death 
of  Magnus  Bareleg  on  an  Irish  battlefield  in  1103. 
Three  illegitimate  sons,  the  oldest  being  only  fourteen 
years  of  age,  succeeded  to  the  royal  title.  One  of  these 
was  the  famous  Sigurd  Jerusalemfarer,  who  took  part 
in  the  later  stages  of  the  first  crusade.  About  twenty 
years  after  King  Magnus'  death,  a  young  Irishman, 
Harold  Gilchrist  by  name,  appeared  at  the  Norwegian 
court  and  claimed  royal  rights  as  a  son  of  the  fallen 
king.  King  Sigurd  forced  him  to  prove  his  birthright  by 
an  appeal  to  the  ordeal,  but  the  Irishman  walked  un- 
hurt over  the  hot  plowshares.  Harold  became  king  in 
1130  as  joint  ruler  with  Sigurd's  son  Magnus,  later 
called  "  the  Blind."  *  Three  of  his  sons  succeeded  to  the 

*  The  strife  that  followed  the  accession  of  Harold  Gille  and  Magnus  the 
Blind  is  the  subject  of  Bjornson's  great  historical  drama,  Sigurd  Slembe 
(English  translation  by  William  Morton  Payne). 


kingship  in  1136.  During  the  next  century  several  pre- 
tenders appeared  and  civil  war  became  almost  the  nor- 
mal state  of  the  country.  Between  1103  and  1217  fifteen 
princes  were  honored  with  the  royal  title;  eleven  of 
these  were  minors.  The  period  closed  with  the  defeat 
and  death  of  King  Hakon's  father-in-law,  the  pretender 
Skule,  in  1240. 

It  was  thp  history  of  these  hundred  years  and  mnrp  nf 
loirit  kin  fif  S  rp  *"*   of  pretenders,  of  minorities  Q^>H  r>f  fivil 
™hiVh  thf*  author  of  thf*  King'ft  Mirror  hod  in  rnjp.fl 
'«  gloomy  r>Viflpf  Pr  nn  t^e  calamities 

Perhaps  ne  was  thinking  more  es- 
pecially of  the  unnatural  conflict  between  King  Hakon 
and  Duke  Skule,*  which  was  fought  out  in  1240,  and  the 
memory  of  which  was  still  fresh  at  the  time  when  the 
King's  Mirror  was  being  written. 

Of  the  king  and  his  duties  as  ruler  and  judge  the 
Speculum  Regale  has  much  to  say;  but  as  these  matters 
offer  no  problems  that  call  for  discussion,  it  will  not  be 
necessary  to  examine  them  in  detail.  Wholly  different 
is  the  case  of  the  Ring's  rpfafjpn  t.p  thfi  r,hurrh3  of  the 
position,  of  the  church  in  the  state,  of  the  divine  origin 
.ol  .Jkingfthifi,  of  the  fuhe^oLthe  rpyaj  authority  jQr 
these  questions  the  author's  opinions  and  arguments  are 
of  great  importance  :(in  the  history  of  the  theory  of  king- 
ship by  the  grace  of  God  and  divine  right  and  of  abso- 
lute monarchy,  the  Speculum  Regale  is  an  important 

In  the  discussion  of  the  origin  and  powers  of  the  royal 
office,  the  King's  Mirror  again  shows  unmistakably  the 

*  See  below,  p.  48. 


influence  of  events  in  the  preceding  century  of  Nor- 
wegian history.  So  long  as  thfijehurch-of  Norway  was 
umfcr  th*>  gnpftrincinn  ^LJarpigT]  firchbishops.  first  the 
metropolitan  of  distant  Hamburg  and  later  the  arch- 
bishop of  the  Danish  (now  Swedish)  see  of  Lund,  there. 
of  anv  serious-dash  betwe«a-*he. 

rival  powers  of  f^11T>rh  and  ctqt^  But  when,  in  1152,  an 
<Jrchiepisco£aj>see  was  established  at  Nidaros  (Trond- 
hjem)  trouble  broke  out  at  once.  Thejvave  of  enthusi- 
^sjfl  for  a  powerful  and  indepgHpPf  phnrffr,  which  Jlgl 
Developed  «iir»>i  vijofor  in  the  Havs  oLfiregorv  VII.  was 
gftfl)  rising  high.  Able  men  were  appointed  to  the  new 
metropolitan  office  and  the  Norwegian  church  very  soon 
put  forth  the  usual  demands  of  the  time:  separate  eccle- 
siastical courts  and  immunity  from  anything  that  looked 
like  taxation  or  forced  contribution  to  the  state.  At  first 
these  claims  had  no  reality  in  fact,  as  the  kings  would 
not  allow  them;  but  in  1163  *  an  opportunity  came  for 
the  church  to  make  its  demands  effective.  In  that  year 
a  victorious  faction  asked  for  the  coronation  of  a  new 
king  whose  claims  to  the  throne  came  through  Jbis 
mother  only*  The  pretender  was  a  mere  child  and  tjie 
actual  power  was  in  the  hands  of  his  capable  and  am- 
bitious father^  Erling  Skakke.  The  imperious  archbishog 
Eystein  agreed  to  consecrate  the  boy  king  if  he  would 
consent  to  become  the  vassal  of  Saint  Olaf,  or,  in  other 
words,  of  the  archbishop  of  Nidaros.  Erling  acquiesced 
and  young  Magnus  was  duly  crowned.  It  was  further 
.  Stipulated  that  j 

*  The  date  usually  given  is  1164;  but  Ebbe  Hertzberg  argues  quite  conclu- 
sively for  the  earlier  year.  "  Den  f  orste  norske  Kongekroning  "  :  Historisk 
Tidsskrift,  Fjerde  Rtekke,  III,  30-37. 


final  decision  should-  rest,  with  the  bishopsJ4  The_jita±e  £ 

Wfl.s  formally  ma  HP   gnhjWf;   f|O  ftfo   r»lmrr»li     It   must  be 
rioted,  however,  that  it.  wa.s  not.  tjhf*  hparl   r)f  Cat.hnHn 

marl**  t.Tip|gfi  glfliTingj  V»nf  the  chief 

prft1a.t.p  Of  thp  naiinrml  Norwegian  churchy  The  theory 
was  doubtless  this,  that  if  the  pope  is  superioy  tp 

^Tppprnr    thp  arpTiVnghnp  jfi  fillpfrJW  to  the  king. 

The  new  arrangement  did  not  long  remain 
lenged.  In  1177  the  opposition  to  the  ecclesiastical 
faction  found  a  leader  in  Sverre,  called  Sigurdsson,  an 
adventurer  from  the  Faroe  Islands,  who  pretended  to 
be  a  grandson  of  Harold  Gilchrist,  though  the  proba- 
bilities are  that  his  father  was  one  Unas,  a  native  of  the 
Faroes.  f  Sverre's  followers  were  known  as  Birchshanks, 
because  they  had  been  reduced  to  such  straits  that  they 
had  to  bind  birch  bark  around  their  legs.  The  faction  in 
control  of  the  government  was  called  the  Croziermen 
and  was  composed  of  the  higher  clergy  with  an  impor- 
tant following  among  the  aristocracy.  Sverre's  fight  was, 
therefore,  not  against  King  Magnus  alone  but  against 
the  Guelph  party  of  Norway.  For  half  a  century  there 
was  intermittent  civil  warfare  between  the  supporters 
of  an  independent  and  vigorous  kingship  on  the  one  side 
and  the  partisans  of  clerical  control  on  the  other.  King 
Sverre's  great  service  to  Norway  was  that  he  broke  the 

*  According  to  the  new  rules  of  succession  the  oldest  legitimate  son,  if  quali-N 
fied  for  the  office,  should  inherit  the  throne.  The  oldest  might  be  passed  over,  i 
however,  in  favor  of  a  younger  legitimate  son,  or  even  in  favor  of  an  illegiti- 
mate descendant,  if  the  bishops  should  find  such  a  procedure  expedient. 
Gjerset,  History  of  the  Norwegian  People,  I,  364. 

t  While  it  seems  probable  that  Sverre  was  not  of  royal  blood  he  was  not 
necessarily  an  impostor;  he  may  have  believed  his  mother's  assertions.  For 
a  discussion  of  the  problem  see  ibid.,  376-377. 


chain  of  ecclesiastical  domination.  The  conflict  was  long 
and  bitter  and  the  great  king  died  while  it  was  still  on; 
but  when  it  ended  the  cause  of  the  Croziermen  was  lost. 
The  church  attained  to  greatjiower  in 

state,  but  it  never  gained  complete  domination. 

Sverre  was  a  man  of  great  intellectual  strength;  he 
was  a  born  leader  of  men,  a  capable  warrior,  and  a  re- 
sourceful captain.  When  it  began  to  look  as  if  victory 
would  crown  his  efforts,  the  archbishop  fled  to  England 
and  from  his  refuge  in  Saint  Edmundsbury  excommuni- 
cated the  king.  But  exile  is  irksome  to  an  ambitious  man, 
and  after  a  time  the  fiery  prelate  retuned  to  Norway 
and  was  reconciled  to  the  strenuous  ruler.  System's 
successor,  however,  took  up  the  fight  once  more;  and 
when  Sverre  made  Norway  too  uncomfortable  for  him, 
he  fled  to  Denmark  and  excommunicated  his  royal  op- 
ponent. A  few  years  later,  Innocent  III,  who  had  just 
ascended  the  papal  throne,  also  excommunicated  Sverre, 
and  threatened  the  kingdom  with  an  interdict.*  But 
the  papal  weapons  had  little  effect  in  the  far  North;  the 
king  forced  priests  and  prelates  to  remain  loyal  and  to 
continue  in  their  duties.  No  doubt  they  obeyed  the  ex- 
communicated ruler  with  great  reluctance  and  much 
misgiving;  but  no  other  course  was  possible,  jor  thew 
nation  was  with  the  king. 

The  militant  Faroese  was  a  man  with  strong  literary 
interests;  he  was  educated  for  the  priesthood  and  it  is 
believed  that  he  had  actually  taken  orders.  He  was  elo- 

*  It  is  usually  stated  that  Innocent  III  actually  did  lay  an  interdict  on  the 
land,  but  this  appears  to  be  an  error.  He  authorized  the  bishops  to  do  so, 
but  they  seem  not  to  have  made  use  of  the  authorization.  See  Bull,  "  Inter- 
diktet  mot  Sverre":  Historisk  Tidsskrift,  Femte  Rsekke,  III,  321-324. 


quent  in  speech,  but  he  realized  the  power  of  the  written 
as  well  as  of  the  spoken  word.  It  is  a  fact  worth  noting 
that  among  the  Northmen  of  the  thirteenth  century 
learning  was  not  confined  to  the  clergy.  While  the  author 
nf  tVio  gVafiji'o  Mt'rrnr  urges  the  prospective  flierchant  to 
]egrj|  T^fl.tin  and  Preriph.,  he  fljpo  warns  him 

hisjmather  tongue.,  King  Sverre  replied  to  the  ecclesi-/ 
astical  decrees  with  a  manifesto  in  the  Norwegian  Ian-   - 
guage  in  which  he  stated  his  position  and  his  claims  for  f^ 
the  royal  office.  This  pamphlet,  which  is  commonly  ^ 
known  as  "  4B-Address  against  the  Bishops,"  was  issued 
about  1199  and  was  sent  to  all  the  shire  courts  to  be 
read  to  the  freemen.  It  was  a  cleverly  written  document 
and  seems  to  have  been  very  effective.  In  spite  of  the 
fact  that  the  king  was  under  the  ban,  ^he^mas.sfi&  re- 
mained loyal. 

Between  the  political  theory  of  the  Address  and  the 
ideas  of  kingship  expressed  in  the  King's  Mirror  there 
is  an  agreement  which  can  hardly  be  accidental.  It  is 
more  likely  that  we  have  in  this  case  literary  kinship  of 
tfre  first  degree.  It  has  been  thought  that  King  Sverre 
may  have  prepared  his  manifesto  himself,  but  this  is 
scarcely  probable.  Some  one  of  his  court,  however,  must 
have  composed  it,  perhaps  some  clerk  in  the  royal  scrip- 
torium, for  the  ideas  developed  in  the  document  are 
clearly  those  of  the  king.  It  has  also  been  suggested  that 
the  Address  and  the  Speculum  Regale  may  have  been 
written  by  the  same  hand;  *  but  the  only  evidence  in 
support  of  such  a  conclusion  is  this  agreement  of  political 

*  This  appears  to  be  Heffermehl's  opinion.  See  Historiske  Skrifter  tilegnede 
Ludvig  Daae,  87. 


ideas,  which  may  have  originated  in  a  careful  study  of 
the  earlier  document  by  the  author  of  the  later  work. 

King  Sverre's  Address  begins  with  a  violent  attack  on 
the  higher  clergy:  the  bishops  have  brought  sorrow  upon 
the  land  and  confusion  into  holy  church.  This  deplorable 
condition  is  ascribed  chiefly  to  a  reckless  use  of  the 
power  of  excommunication.  In  this  connection  the  king 
is  careful  to  absolve  the  pope  from  all  guilt:  his  unfortu- 
nate deeds  were  due  to  ignorance  and  to  false  represen- 
tations on  the  part  of  the  bishops.  It  is  next  argued  that 
excommunication  is  valid  only  when  the  sentence  of 
anathema  is  just;  an  unjust  sentence  is  not  only  invalid 
but  it  recoils  upon  the  head  of  him  who  is  the  author  of 
the  anathema.  In  support  of  this  contention  the  author 
of  the  manifesto  quotes  the  opinions  of  such  eminent 
fathers  as  Saint  Jerome,  Saint  Augustine,  Pope  Gregory 
the  Great,  and  other  authorities  on  canon  law.  It  will 
be  remembered  that  the  king  himself  was  under  the  ban 
at  the  time.  The  author  argues  further  that  his  view  is 
supported  by  reason  as  well  as  by  the  law  of  the  church. 
Bishops  have  been  appointed  shepherds  of  the  flocks  of 
God;  they  are  to  watch  over  them,  not  drive  them  away 
into  the  jaws  of  the  wolves.  But  if  a  bishop  excommuni- 
cates one  who  is  without  guilt,  he  consigns  him  to  hell; 
and  if  his  decree  is  effective,  he  destroys  one  of  God's 

From  this  subject  the  Address  passes  to  the  nature  of 
the  royal  office.  "  So  great  a  number  of  examples  show 
clearly  that  the  salvation  of  a  man's  soul  is  at  stake  if 
he  does  not  observe  complete  loyalty,  kingly  worship, 
and  a  right  obedience;  for  kingly  rule  is  created  by  God's 


command  and  not  by  the  ordinance  of  man,  and  no  man 
can  obtain  royal  authority  except  by  divine  dispensa- 
tion." The  king  is  not  a  secular  ruler  only,  he  also  has 
holy  church  in  his  power  and  keeping.  It  is  his  right  and 
duty  to  appoint  church  officials,  and  the  churchmen 
owe  him  absolute  loyalty  the  same  as  his  other  subjects. 
Christ  pointed  out  the  duty  of  church  officials  quite 
clearly  when  he  paid  tribute  to  his  earthly  ruler,  one 
who  was,  moreover,  a  heathen.* 

It  will  be  seen  that  the  Address  puts  forth  four  claims 
of  far-reaching  importance:  kingship  is  of  Hi  vino  ™»igJQ 
flFld  thp  king  T2]lfg_hy  t^Q  grn™»  fif  froH;  the 
royalty  extends,  t.o  fop  r»hiirr*h  ««  WP]|  a,<^  t.n  t-b*VtStat** 
includes  the  power  fo  aj>pnint.  the,  r^ferf}  o/f  flip 
disloyalty  to  the  king  is  a  mortal  sin;  an  unjust  sentence 
of  excommunication  is  invalid  and  iniures  him  onlv  who 
publishes  the  anathema*.  On  all  these  points  the  King's 
Mirror  is  in  complete  agreement  with  Sverre's  mani- 

In  the  course  of  the  dialog  in  the  Speculum  Regale  the 
son  requests  his  father  to  take  up  and  discuss  the  office 
and  business  of  the  king;  for,  says  he,  "  he  is  so  highly 
honored  and  exalted  upon  earth  that  all  must  bend 
and  bow  before  him  as  before  God."  f  Th^  father  ac- 
r>mmt«  fnr  tn*>  p<pwfr  and  dignity  ^f  kingship  in  thin 

Way:  men  bow  hpfnrp  flip  Icing  as  hpfnrp  OnH 

he  represents  the  exalted  authority  of  God;  he 
God's  own  name  and  occupies  the  highest  Judgment 

*  The  Address  is  published  as  an  appendix  to  the  Christiania  edition  of  the 
King's  Mirror.  It  has  also  been  issued  in  separate  form  under  the  title  En 
Tale  mod  Biskopperne;  this  edition  is  by  Gustav  Storm, 
t  C.  xliii. 


«psi.t.  npnn  earth:  consequently,  whejLOjnLehpJlPls^Lking, 
it  is  as  if  he  honors  God  himself,  because  .oltheJitle-that. 
he  has  from  God.* 

The  author  evidently  realizes  that  statements  of  this 
sort  will  not  be  accepted  without  further  argument,  and 
he  naturally  proceeds  to  gn've  his  doctrine  a  basis  in 
history.  The  reverence  due  kingship  is  fully 


illustrated  with  episodes  in  the  career  of  David.  So  long 
as  God  permitted  King  Saul  to  live,  David  would  do 
nothing  to  deprive  him  of  his  office;  for  Saul  was  also 

\  the  Lord's  anointed.  He  took  swift  revenge  upon  the 

)  man  who  came  to  his  camp  pretending  that  he  had  slain 
Saul;  for  he  had  sinned  against  God  in  bearing  arms 
against  His  anointed.  He  also  calls  attention  to  Saint 
Peter's  injunction:  "  Fear  God  and  honor  your  king;" 
and  adds  that  it  is  "  almost  as  if  he  had  literally  said 

\  that  he  who  does  not  show  perfect  honor  to  the  king 

\ioesnotfear  God."  | 

To  emphasize  his  contention  that  kingship  is  of  divine 
origin,  the  author  cites  the^example  of  Christ.  The  mir- 
acle of  the  fish  in  whose  mouth  the  tribute  money  was 
found  is  referred  to  in  the  Address  as  well  as  in  the  King's 
Mirror.  Peter  was  to  examine  the  first  fish,  not  the 
second  or  the  third.  In  the  same  way,  and  here  the  argu- 
ment is  characteristically  medievall"^  every  man  should 
in  all  things  first  honor  the  king  and  the  royal  dignity; 
for  God  Himself  calls  the  king  His  anointed. "%\ 
[But,  objects  the  son,yhoa^cQuld  Christ  who  is  him- 
self the  lard  nf  he^Vfin  and  fiaTth  bf  willing  tr>  gnV>rnit  t^. 
An....fifl.rt.h1y_.AiitIinrit^Lp  To  this  the  father  replies  that 

*  C.  xliii.  f  C.  xliv.  J  Ibid. 



.s  a.  fmpst.    /f  no        is 

Yft  thft  divine  j^yt^iitinTi  nf  lrJngcnip  pf  any  bonftr  Of 

'••dignity  i*  The  author  evidently  deems  it  important,  to 
t*">  retention:  for  if  Christ. 

Caesar  a,,i  to  n  rigfr**"1  on+K/M-jf.Y,  tli^  f»h]|rf>h  in 

Secular  r"lfTg  ^"1^  g^Qrrp]y  p]pim  tr>  V>o  fnllnaring  in 

footsteps  of  the  faster. 

It  seems  to  be  a  safe  conclusion  that  the  doctrine  of 
the  divine  character  of  kingship  as  developed  in  the 
King's  Mirror  is  derived  from  King  Sverre's  Address, 
unless  it  should  be  that  the  two  have  drawn  from  a  com- 
mon source.  There  is  nothing  novel  about  Sverre's  ideas 
except  the  form  in  which  they  are  stated;  fundamentally 
they  are  a  return  to  the  original  Norwegian  theory  of 
kingship.  The  Norwegian  kings  of  heathen  times  were 
descendants  of  divine  ancestors.  Thpy  recognized  ft"*  will 

Qgg^mKli^g     Qg    Q    T^Q]    lirm'tQ  +  iryn    on    tJ1fjr 

Dow^ers  but  fif)  TP!  10*1  one  fl.iitnoTit.v  f^oiilri  dflim  su~ 
pprinrit,y  +^  +1h^  Tnl^r  The  j^ing  was  inH^f^  himseh6  a 
priest.r  ft.  media/tor  between  the  gods  and  men.  The 

Christian  Irincrs 

in  a  very  real  manner;  they  had 

bishops  and  ha.H  also  on  nrrasinn  remnvpH  thprn 

claini  of  the  archbishop  to  overlordshii)  was  therefore 
distinctly  an  innovation.  The  king  makes  use  of  argu- 
ments from  the  Bible  to  support  his  theory,  not  because 
it  was  based  on  Scriptural  truths,  but  because  to  a 
Christian  people  these  would  prove  the  most  convincing. 
In  his  statement  of  the  filings  and  majesty  ^  *^g 
xnynl  pow^r,  the  author  of  the  Speculum  Regale  goes, 

*  C.  xliv. 


however,  far  beyond  the  author  of  the  Address.  So  com- 
plete is  the  king's  power,  "  that  he  may  dispose  as  he 
likes  of  the  lives  of  all  who  live  in  his  kingdom."  *  He 
"  owns  the  entire  kingdom  as  well  as  all  the  people  in  it, 
so  that  all  the  men  who  are  in  his  kingdom  owe  him 
service  whenever  his  needs  demand  it."f  These  sen- 
tences would  indicate  that  the  author's  position  lies 
close  to  the  verge  of  absolutism.  But  Norwegian  king- 
was  anything  bi]f  PibH11*^  f>1F  ^'"ff 

in  tJiegovexiimeni.  Professor  Ludvig  Daae  has  put  forth 
the  hypothesis  that  the  author  of  the  King's  Mirror  was 
acquainted  with  the  governmental  system  of  Frederick 
II  in  his  Italian  kingdom,  which  he  governed  as  an  abso- 
lute monarch,  t  There  may  be  some  truth  in  this  for 
there  is  no  doubt  that  the  character  of  Frederick's 
government  was  known  to  the  Northmen;  but  it  is  also 
possible  that  the  theory  of  absolute  monarchy  had  a 
separate  Norse  origin,  that  the  insistence  on  divine  right 
in  the  long  fight  with  the  church  had  driven  the  parti- 
sans of  monarchy  far  forward  along  the  highway  that 
led  to  practical  absolutism.  Less  than  a  generation  after 
the  King's  Mirror  was  composed,  the  newer  ideas  of 
kingship  appear  in  the  legislation  of  Magnus  Lawmen- 
der.  Kings  have  received  their  authority  from  God,  for 
"  God  Himself  deigns  to  call  Himself  by  their  name;  " 
and  the  preamble  continues:  "he  is,  indeed,  in  great 
danger  before  God,  who  does  not  with  perfect  love  and 
reverence  uphold  them  in  the  authority  to  which  God 

*  C.  xliii.  f  C.  xxviii. 

f'Studier  angaaende  Kongespeilet " :  Aarboger  for  nordisk  Oldkyndighed, 

1896,  189. 


has  appointed  them."*  This  is  the  doctrine  of  the  Ad- 
dress as  well  as  of  the  Speculum;  the  significant  fact  is 
that  the  principle  has  now  been  introduced  into  the 
constitution  of  the  monarchy.  It  is  possible  that 
author  of  the  King's  Mirror  states  an  alien  principle;  but 
it  is  more  probable  that  he  merely  gives  form  to  a  belief 
that  had  been  growing  among  Northmen  for  some  time. 
On  the  question  of  thervalidity  of  excommunication] 
the  teachings  of  the  Speculum  Regale  are  in  perfect  ac- 
cord with  those  of  the  Address.  The  uncompromising 
position  and  methods  of  Innocent  III  had  given  point 
to  an  exceedingly  practical  question:  was  a  Christian 
permitted  to  nbpy  a  king  wl^n  was  under  thp  fran  of 
church  ?  Of Jif  rally  thp  nhiirnli  liplH  thflt-oborlionofv 

thfi  rirninastaTKWfr- would  -ho  ninful.  The  author  of  the 

Speculum  Hi'gt.inginalipg  pl^ly.  however,  between  just 

and  •  unj ust  sentences-  of  excommunication 

established  two  houses  ypon  fftrth,  f 

altar  and  the  house  of  the  judgment  seat.f  There  Js^ 

therefore,  a  legitimatp  sphere  ^f  f^^ti^^  ^r  *he  bishop  fl.fi_ 

well  as  for  frhft  Icinpr,  JRn-t  a.n  apt,  is  not  npoessarily  rjghi:- 

eous  henausfiJt-emanates  ffmn  lijgh  authority  fit^pr  in    o     /VA>^ 

the  .chiirrJi  ,or  JLa~the  stater  If  ihg^i^g  pronnnnnps  ^n 

iinjiist  jiiHgmpntj  his  apt  is  mnrHpr.}  if  a.hishnp  ax^nm- 

municates  a  Christian  without  proper  reasons,  the  ban 
is-oLao  .effect,  except  that  it  reacts  upon  the  offending 
prelate  himself  .J 

After  the  author  has  thus  denied  the  right  of  the 
church  to  use  the  sword  of  excommunication  in  certain 

*  Norgesgamle  Love,  II,  23;  Gjerset,  History  of  the  Norwegian  People,  1, 463. 
fC.lxix.  JC.lxx. 


cases,  there  remains  the  question  :  Jias  the  .king.,  any,  su- 
perior authority  over  the  church  ?  The  answer  is  that 
king  has  such  authority;)  and  the  author  fortifies  his 
position  by  recalling  the  story  bow  Solomon  punished 
Ahinthnr  the  high  p™^  or  bishop  as  he  is  called  in  the 
King's  Mirror.  l^^^U^^h^ 
whether  SolamfflLd^^  Abiathar 

of  the  high-pxiestly  office,  the  father,  affirms  ..thatJiie 
acted  properly  and  according  to  law.  The  king-is 
for  th  ft  reason  that  he  must 

not  jpnly  -bis-own  house  .ol  judgment,  -but  a]  so  the 
pf  the  ^JtajywhiVh  is  ordinarily  in  the,  bishnp^ 

keeping.  Abiathar  had  sinned  in  becoming  a  party  to  the 
treasonable  intrigues  of  Adonijah,  who  was  plotting  to 
seize  the  throne  of  Israel  while  his  father  David  was 
still  living,  [inasmuch  as  the  high  priest  had  attempted 
to  deprive  the  Lord's  anointed  of  his  royal  rights,  Solo- 
mon would  have  been  guiltless  even  if  he  had  taken 
Abiathar's  lifeTJThe  author  also  calls  attention  to  the 
fact  that  Abiathar  was  elevated  to  the  high-priestly 
office  by  David  himself  .* 

On  the  qimst^"  of  the  king's  right  tn  pprHrol  ppi's^n- 
pal  appointments  the  Kin  (fa  Mirror  is  also  in  agreement 
with  the  earlier  Address.  On  the  death  of  Archbishop 
John,  the  Address  tells  us,  "  Inge  appointed  Eystein, 
his  own  chaplain,  to  the  archiepiscopal  office  f  .  .  •  with- 
out consulting  any  cleric  in  Trondhjem,  either  the 
canons  or  any  one  else;  and  he  drove  Bishop  Paul  from 
the  episcopal  throne  in  Bergen  and  chose  Nicholas 
Petersson  to  be  his  successor."  Doubtless  the  philosopher 

*  C.  Ixx.  f  Archbishop  Eystein  was  consecrated  in  1161. 


of  the  King's  Mirror,  when  he  wrote  of  the  fall  of 
Abiathar,  was  also  thinking  of  the  many  Abiathars  of 
Norwegian  history  in  the  twelfth  century,  especially, 
perhaps,  of  the  bishops  of  Sverre's  reign,  who  had  striven 
so  valiantly  to  rid  the  nation  of  its  energetic  king.  There 
can  be  no  doubt,  however,  that  he  regarded  t.fip 
frrr^y  as  jnfpri'nr  to  thp  secular  government. 
who  iinright.pni]fi1.y  excommunicates  a  Norwegian  king 
and  ai.t.emptsjjnjjbis  way  to  render  hi™  iTnpftfiSj^1p  as  a 
rnWr  fojfci'tff  pnt  nnly  his  nffW  hut  Lie  lifp 

There  was  another  problem  in  the  middle  ages  which. 
also  involved  the  question  of  jecclesiastical  authority]  as 
opposed  to[secular  jurisdictionj  the  rjght  of 
There  can  be  no  doubt  that  " 

it.  wa,s,wp11  that  tbflfi 

an  accused  might  find  security  for  a  time  at  least;  but 
the  right  of  sanctuary  was  much  abused,  too  frequently 
it  served  to  shield  the  guilty..  The  King's  Mirror  teaches 
unequivocally  that  the  right  of  sanctuary  cannot  be  in- 
yoked  against  the  orders  of  the  king.  As  usual  the  author 
finds  support  for  his  position  in  the  Scriptures.  Joab  fled 
to  God's  tabernacle  and  laid  hold  on  the  horns  of  the  altar ; 
nevertheless,  King  Solomon  ordered  him  to  be  slain,  and 
the  command  was  carried  out.*  Solomon  appears  to 
have  reasoned  in  this  wise:  "It  is  my  duty  to  carry  out 
the  provisions  of  the  sacred  law,  no  matter  where 
the  man  happens  to  be  whose  case  is  to  be  determined." 
It  was  not  his  duty  to  remove  Joab  by  force,  for  all  just 
decisions  are  God's  decisions  and  not  the  king's;  and 
"  God's  holy  altar  will  not  be  defiled  or  desecrated  by 


Joab's  blood,  for  it  will  be  shed  in  righteous  punish- 
ment." *  And  the  author  is  careful  to  emphasize  the  fact 
that  God's  tabernacle  was  the  only  house  in  all  the  world 
that  was  dedicated  to  Him,  and  must  consequently  have 
had  an  even  greater  claim  tosacredness  than  the  churches 
of  the  author's  own  day,  of  which  there  was  a  vast 
number,  f 

There  was  a  Norwegian  Joab  in  the  first  half  of  the 
thirteenth  century,  who,  like  the  chieftain  of  old,  plotted 
against  his  rightful  monarch  and  was  finally  slain  within 
the  sacred  precincts  of  an  Augustinian  convent.  Skule, 
King  Hakon's  father-in-law,  was  a  man  of  restless  am- 
bition, who  could  not  find  complete  satisfaction  in  the 
titles  of  earl  and  duke,  but  stretched  forth  his  hand  to 
seize  the  crown  itself.  In  1239  he  assumed  the  royal 
title,  but  a  few  months  later  (1240)  his  forces  were  sur- 
prised in  Nidaros  by  the  king's  army,  and  the  rebellion 
came  to  a  sudden  end.  Skule's  men  fled  to  the  churches; 
his  son  Peter  found  refuge  in  one  of  the  buildings  be- 
longing to  the  monastery  of  Elgesseter,  but  was  dis- 
covered and  slain.  After  a  few  days  Duke  Skule  himself 
sought  security  in  the  same  monastery;  but  the  angry 
Birchshanks,  in  spite  of  the  solemn  warnings  and 
threatenings  of  the  offended  monks,  slew  the  pretender 
and  burned  the  monastery.!  This  was  an  act  of  violence 
which  must  have  caused  much  trouble  for  the  king's 
partisans,  and  it  is  most  likely  the  act  which  the  author 
of  the  King's  Mirror  had  in  his  thoughts  when  he  wrote 
of  the  fate  of  Joab. 

*C.lxix.  fC.lxvii. 

J  Hdkonar  Saga,  cc.  239-241;  Munch,  Del  norske  Folks  Historic,  III,  977-978. 


Writers  on  political  philosophy  usually  begin  their 
specific  discussion  of  the  theory  of  divine  right  of  king- 
ship when  they  come  to  the  great  political  theorists  of  the 
fourteenth  century.*  The  most  famous  of  these  is  Mar- 
siglio  of  Padua,  who  wrote  his  Defensor  Pacis  in  1324. 
In  this  work  he  ^<i!prtlfd  *h?-t  t^**  ^*iipfTor  derived  his 
title  and  sovereignty  from  God  and  that  his  authority 
was  superior  to  that  of  the  pope.  Some  years  earlier 
William  Occam,  an  English  scholar  and  philosopher, 
made  similar  claims  for  the  rights  of  the  king  of  France. 
Earlier  still,  perhaps  in  1310,  Dante  had  claimed  divine 
right  for  princes  generally  in  his  famous  work  De  Mo- 
narchia.  Somewhat  similar,  though  less  precise,  ideas 
had  been  expressed  by  John  of  Paris  in  1305.  But  nearly 
two  generations  earlier  the  doctrine  had  been  stated  in 
all  its  baldness  and  with  all  its  implications  by  the  au- 
thor of  the  King's  Mirror;  and  more  than  a  century  be- 
fore Dante  wrote  his  work  on  "  Monarchy  "  Sverre  had 
published  his  Address  to  the  Norwegian  people.  So  far 
as  the  writer  has  been  able  to  determine  there  is  no 
treatise  on  general  medieval  politics,  at  least  no  such 
treatise  written  in  English,  which  contains  even  an  allu- 
sion to  these  two  significant  works. 

The  ethical  ideas  that  are  outlined  in  the  Speculum 
Regale  are  also  of  more  than  common  interest.  On  most 
points  the  learned  father  preaches  the  conventional 
principles  of  the  church  with  respect  to  right  and  wrong 
conduct,  and  as  a  rule  his  precepts  are  such  as  have 
stood  the  test  of  ages  of  experience.  He  emphasizes 
hoftest^afc^pR]ingj  careful  attendee  upon  worship^ 

*  On  this  subject,  see  Figgis,  Divine  Right  of  Kings,  c.  iii. 


£vnti™  tn  t>iP  nlmrfh;  he  warnsJhis  son  to  shun 
f  every  sort;  -fr*»  rmigf  a|gQ  aypiH  gambling, ajirl 
r[jjpTriTig  to  excess.*  In  some  respects  the  author's  jnora,L 
code  is  Scandinavian  rather  than  Christian:  in  the, em- 
phasis that  he  places  upon  reputation  and  the  regardjn 
which  one  is  held  by  one's  neighbors  he  seems  to  echojjie 
sentiment  that  runs  through  the  earlier  Eddie  poetry, 
especially  the  "  Song  of  the  High  One."  "  One  thing  I 
know  that  always  remains,"  says  Woden,  "  judgment 
passed  on  the  dead."  f  And  the  Christian  scribe  more 
than  three  centuries  later  writes  thus  of  one  who  has 
departed  this  life:  "  But  if  he  lived  uprightly  while  on 
earth  and  made  proper  provision  for  his  soul  before  he 
died,  then  you  may  take  comfort  in  the  good  repute  that 
lives  after  him,  and  even  more  in  the  blissful  happiness 
which  you  believe  he  will  enjoy  with  God  in  the  other 
world."  t  And  again  he  says:  "  Now  you  will  appreciate 
what  I  told  you  earlier  in  our  conversation,  namely  that 
much  depends  on  the  example  that  a  man  leaves  after 

The  author  is  also  Norse  in  his  emphasis  on  modera- 
tion in  every  form  of  indulgence,  on  the  control  of  one's 
passion,  and  in  permitting  private  revenge.  His  attitude 
toward  this  present  world  isjSot  medievajQ  we  may  enjfi$L. 
the  good  things  of  creation,  though  not  to  excess«X)n 
the  matter  of  revenge,  however,  his  ideas  are  character- 
istically medievaJL  Private  warfare  was  allowed  almost 
everywhere  in  the  middle  ages,  and  it  appears  to  have 
a  place  in  the  political  system  of  the  Speculum  Regale* 

*  Cc.  iii-iv,  xxxvii.  %  C.  xli. 

t  Hdvamdl,  40:  Corpus  Poeticum  Boreale,  I,  8.  §  C.  xlii. 



But  on  this  point  too  the  author  urges  moderation.  "When  \ 
you  hear  things  in  the  speech  of  other  men  which  offend      \ 
you  much,  be  sure  to  investigate  with  reasonable  care        \ 
whether  the  tales  be  true  or  false;  but  if  they  prove  to 
be  true  and  it  is  proper  for  you  to  seek  revenge,  take        / 
it  with  reason  and  moderation  and  never  when  heated     / 
or  irritated."  * 

The  theology  of  the  King's  Mirror,  as  far  as  it  can  be 
discerned,  is  also  medieval,  though  it  is  remarkable  that 
the  Virgin  and  the  saints  find  only  incidental  mention  in 
the  work.  No  doubt  if  the  author  had  been  able  to  com- 
plete his  treatise  as  outlined  in  his  introduction,  he 
would  have  discussed  the  forms  and  institutions  of  the 
church  at  greater  length  and  we  should  be  able  to  know 
to  what  extent  his  theological  notions  were  in  agreement 
with  the  religious  thought  of  the  age. 

In  this  connection  his  t.hfnry 

a^  crime  .  is  of  peculiar  interest.  He  makes  con- 
siderable use  of  Biblical  narratives  to  illustrate  his 
teachings  and  refers  at  length  to  some  of  the  less  worthy 
characters  of  Holy  Writ,  including  certain  men  who 
suffered  death  for  criminal  offenses.  Almost  invariably 
he  justifies  the  punishment  by  arguing  that  it  was  betten. 
for  the  criminal  to  suffer  a  swift  punishment  in  death. 
than  to  suffer  eternally  in  hell.  Apparently  his  theory  is 
that  a  criminal  can  cleanse  himself  in  his  own  blood, 
that  a  temporal  death  can  save  him  from  eternal  punish- 
ment^ The  idolaters  who  were  slain  by  Moses  and  the 
Levites  f  "  were  cleansed  in  their  penance  and  in  the 
pangs  which  they  suffered  when  they  died;  and  it  was 

*  C.  xli.  t  Exodus,  xxxii. 


much  better  for  them  to  suffer  a  brief  pain  in  death  than 
a  long  torture  in  hell."  The  sacramental  efficiency  of  the 
death  penalty  seems  also  to  extend  to  the  one  who  exe- 
cutes punishment:  for  those  who  assisted  Moses  in  the 
slaughter  sanctified  their  hands  in  the  blood  of  those 
who  were  slain.  In  the  same  way  "a  king  cleanses 
himself  in  the  blood  of  the  unjust,  if  he  slays  them  as  a 
rightful  punishment  to  fulfil  the  sacred  laws."* 

There  can  be  little  doubt  that  this  doctrine  of  the 
death  penalty  also  shows  the  influence  of  the  great  civil 
conflict  which  ended  with  the  death  of  Duke  Skule  in 
1240.  During  a  century  of  factional  warfare  there  had 
been  much  violence,  much  slaughter,  much  "  swift 
punishment."  Applied  to  Norwegian  history  the  au- 
thor's argument  amounts  to  a  justification  of  the  slaugh- 
ter at  Elgesseter;  for  Skule  and  his  partisans  had  re- 
belled against  the  Lord's  anointed.  The  hands  of  the 
Birchshanks  were  cleansed  and  sanctified  in  the  blood 
of  the  rebels;  but  the  author  also  has  this  comforting 
assurance  for  the  kinsmen  of  the  fallen,  that  their  souls 
were  not  lost:  Skule  and  his  companions  were  cleansed 
from  their  sins  in  the  last  great  penance  of  death. 

It  may  also  be  that  this  same  long  record  of  violence^, 
treason,  and  rebellion  was  responsible  for  the  prom^ 
nence  that  the  King's  Mirror  gives  to  the  duty  of  obedi- 
ence. In  the  political  ethics  of  the  work  obedience  is  the 
chief  virtue  and  the  central  principle.  Conversely  diso- 
bedience is  the  greatest  of  all  sins.  When  Saul  spared  the 
Amalekites,  whom  the  Lord  had  ordered  him  to  destroy, 
he  sinned  far  more  grievously  than  did  David  when  he 
*  C.  Ixi. 


dishonored  Uriah's  wife  and  afterward  brought  about 
Uriah's  death;  for  Saul  neglected  to  carry  out  the  com- 
mands of  God,  and  "  no  offense  is  graver  than  to  be 
disobedient  toward  one's  superiors."  * 

The  King's  Mirror  is  a  medieval  document;  it  was  in 
large  part  inspired  by  the  course  of  events  in  Norway 
during  the  century  of  the  civil  wars;  it  records  the  scien- 
tific and  political  thought  of  a  certain  definite  period  in 
Norwegian  history.  But  even  though  the  author  of  the 
work  must  be  classed  among  the  thinkers  of  his  own 
time,  his  place  is  far  in  advance  of  most  of  his  fellows. 
His  outlook  on  the  world  is  broader  than  that  of  most 
medieval  writers.  In  matters  of  science  he  is  less  credu- 
lous and  IgssJKpupH  hy  thpftJ^giVal  tli™igV  than  others 
who  wrote  on  these  subjects  in  his  own  century  or 
earlier.  On  such  questions  as  the  cause  of  earthquakes 
and  the  source  of  the  northern  lights  he  shows  an  ppen- 
mindedness,  which  is  rarely  met  with  in  the  middle 
ages.|  For  the  author's  view  of  life  was  not  wholly  me- 
dieval; on  many  subjects  we  find  him  giving  utterance 
to  thoughts  which  have  a  distinctly  modern  appearance. 

His   theory   of  tViP   staip   anH    itc   fiinntinng   ic   Hi<atinr»tl.y 

But  it  is  probably  in  the  field  of  education 

where  the  great  Northman  is  farthest  in  advance  of  his 
time.  In  his  day  the  work  of  instruction  was  still  in  the 
hands  of  the  church;  and  the  churchmen  showed  no 
great  anxiety  to  educate  men  except  for  the  clerical 
profession.  The  King's  Mirror,  however,  teaches  that 

t  See  Larson,  "  Scientific  Knowledge  in  the  North  in  the  Thirteenth  Cen- 
tury ":  Publications  of  the  Society  for  the  Advancement  of  Scandinavian  Study, 
I,  141-146. 



mcrchanti  mint  rf™  ^  pHii^ipd:  they  must  learn  the 
art  of  reckoning  and  those  facts  of  science  that  are  of 
interest  to  navigators;  they  must  study  languages, 
Latin,  French,  and  Norwegian;  and  they  must  become 
thoroughly  acquainted  with  the  laws  of  the  land.  But 
the  author  does  not  stop  here:  a  merchant  should  also 
educate  his  children.  "  If  children  be  given  to  you,  let 
them  not  grow  up  without  learning  a  trade;  for  we  may 
expect  a  man  to  keep  closer  to  knowledge  and  business 
when  he  comes  of  age,  if  he  is  trained  in  youth  while 
under  control." 

The  identity  of  the  author  of  the  Speculum  Regale  has 
never  been  disclosed.  Anonymous  authorship  was  not 
uncommon  in  medieval  Norse  literature:  many  of  the 
sagas  were  written  by  men  whose  names  are  not  known. 
In  the  thirteenth  century,  however,  it  had  become  cus- 
tomary for  writers  to  claim  the  honors  of  authorship. 
Our  philosopher  of  the  King's  Mirror  clearly  understood 
that  his  readers  would  be  curious  to  know  his  name:  if 
the  book,  he  tells  us  in  his  introductory  chapter,  has 
any  merit,  that  should  satisfy  the  reader,  and  there  is 
no  reason  why  any  one  should  wish  to  search  out  the 
name  of  the  one  who  wrote  it.f  Evidently  he  had  a  pur- 
pose in  concealing  his  identity,  and  the  motive  is  not 
far  to  seek. 

After  the  death  of  King  Sverre  (1202)  the  conflict  be- 
tween the  king  and  the  hierarchy  ceased  for  a  time.  The 
church  made  peace  with  the  monarchy;  the  exiled 
bishops  returned;  and  the  faction  of  the  Croziermen 
disintegrated.  After  a  few  years,  however,  the  old 
*C.iv.  C.i. 


quarrels  broke  out  anew.  On  the  accession  of  Hakon  IV 
the  church  yielded  once  more,  though  the  prelates  did 
not  renounce  their  earlier  claims.  In  1245,  when  plans 
were  being  made  for  King  Hakon's  coronation,  the 
bishops  put  forth  the  suggestion  that  the  king  should, 
on  that  occasion,  renew  the  agreement  of  1163,  which 
gave  the  bishops  control  of  the  succession.  But  the 
great  king  refused.  "If  we  swear  such  an  oath  as  King 
Magnus  swore,  then  it  seems  to  us  as  though  our  honor 
would  be  lessened  by  it  rather  than  increased."  *  He 
flatly  asserted  that  he  would  be  crowned  without  any 
conditions  attached  to  the  act,  or  the  crown  "  shall 
never  come  upon  our  head." 

After  the  arrival  of  Cardinal  William  of  Sabina,  who 
had  been  sent  by  the  pope  to  officiate  at  the  coronation, 
and  while  preparations  for  that  joyous  event  were  going 
forward,  the  subject  was  brought  up  once  more.  On  the 
suggestion  of  the  Norwegian  bishops  the  cardinal  asked 
the  king  to  take  Magnus  Erlingsson's  oath;  but  the 
king  again  refused,  and  the  cardinal  decided  that  "  there 
is  no  need  to  speak  of  it  oftener."  f  The  king  was 
crowned  and  there  was  peace  between  the  two  great 
forces  of  church  and  monarchy,  at  least  so  long  as 
Hakon  lived.  Sometime  not  long  before  or  after  the 
coronation  of  the  great  king  (1247)  the  King's  Mirror 
seems  to  have  been  written.  It  is  clear  that  such  ideas 
as  are  enunciated  in  this  work  with  respect  to  the  snb- 
mission..o£  the  church  to  the  authorities  of  the  state  can 
not  have,  been  xelished  by  the  hierarchy,  and  perhaps 
they  were  just  then  somewhat  unwelcome  to  the  secular 

*  Hdkonar  Saga,  c.  247.  f  /&«*•»  c.  251. 



rulers  as  well,  since  a  discussion  of  this  sort  might  tend 
to  renew  ill  feeling  and  stir  up  strife.  Consequently  the 
author  may  have  thought  it  wiser  to  remain  anony- 

Earlier  students  of  the  Speculum  Regale  have  believed 
that  the  author  was  some  local  chieftain,  who  had  spent 
his  more  active  days  at  the  royal  court,  but  who  had 
later  retired  to  his  estates  and  was  spending  his  declin- 
ing years  in  literary  pursuits.  Various  efforts  have  been 
made  to  find  this  chieftain,*  but  with  no  success;  there 
is  no  evidence  that  the  lords  or  crusaders  who  have  been 
suggested  as  probable  authors  had  any  literary  interests 
or  abilities.  There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  author  was 
at  one  time  a  prominent  member  of  the  royal  retinue; 
he  asserts  in  several  places  that  such  was  the  case.f  He 
is,  furthermore,  tori  thorough  Jy  famiJmr 

rvf  f 

3ional  -g*«i  ytifr  .."merely.  At  the  same  time  it  is  not  likely 
that  he  was  a  secular  lord  ;  it  SPPT^IS  impnssihlp  that  h^ 
could  have  been  anything  but  a  churchman.  He  knows 

/the  Latin  language;  he  is  well  acquainted  with  sacred 
history;  he  has  read  a  considerable  number  of  medieval 

^  books.  It  is  quite  unlikely  that  the  various  types  of 
learning  that  are  reflected  in  the  chapters  of  the  King's 
Mirror  could  be  found  in  the  thirteenth  century  in  any 
scholar  outside  the  clerical  profession.  He  could  not 
have  been  one  of  the  higher  ecclesiastics,  as  the  prelates 
belonged  to  the  faction  of  the  Croziermen.  The  Specu- 
lum Regale  was  evidently  written  by  a  member  of  the 

*  See  the  Soro  edition,  xxiii;|Munch,  Del  norske  Folks  Historic,  III,  399,  note. 
t  Cc.  ii,  iii,  xxx. 


Norwegian  priesthood,  though  it  is  possible  that  he  be- 
longed to  one  of  the  minor  orders.  But  at  all  events  he 
was  a  professional  churchman.* 

There  was  an  old  belief  in  Norway  that  the  work  was 
written  at  King  Sverre's  court,  perhaps  by  the  priest- 
king  himself  ;f  but  this  theory  is  wholly  without  foun- 
dation. Professor  Ludvig  Daae,  believing  that  only  a 
few  Northmen  possessed  the  necessary  qualifications  for 
the  authorship  of  such  a  work  as  the  King's  Mirror,  con- 
cluded that  it  must  have  been  written  by  Master 
William,  one  of  the  chaplains  at  the  court  of  Hakon  IV.J 
Master  William  was  evidently  a  man  of  some  erudition; 
he  held  a  degree  (magister)  from  a  European  university; 
he  must  have  traveled  abroad  and  was  no  doubt  a  man 
of  experience;  he  lived  and  flourished  in  the  period  when 
the  work  must  have  been  composed.  But  there  is  no 
shred  of  evidence  that  Master  William  actually  wrote 
the  King's  Mirror  or  that  he  was  interested  in  the  prob- 
lems that  are  discussed  in  this  work. 

More  recently  A.  V.  Heffermehl  has  made  an  attempt 
to  prove  that  the  author  so  long  sought  for  was  Ivar 
Bodde,  a  Norwegian  priest,  who  seems  to  have  played 
an  important  part  in  the  history  of  Norway  in  the  first 
half  of  the  thirteenth  century  as  an  influential  member 
of  the  anti-clerical  party.  §  Much  is  not  known  of  Ivar 

*  Cf.  Daae,  "Studier  angaaende  Kongespeilet ":  Aarbogerfor  nordisk  Oldkyn- 

dighed,  1896,  180-181.  Daae  holds  that  the  author  was  a  clergyman. 

t  Ibid.,  1896, 173. 

j  Ibid.,  1896, 192-196;  see  also  pp.  179  ff.  Daae  believes  that  Master  William 

must  have  held  a  position  at  court  corresponding  to  the  office  of  chancellor; 

he  also  conjectures  that  he  was  the  tutor  of  the  king's  sons.  Master  William 

is  mentioned  in  the  Hdkonar  Saga,  cc.  210,  228. 

§  Historiske  Skrifter  tilegnede  Ludvig  Daae,  79-104  ("  Presten  Ivar  Bodde  "). 

Ivar  is  one  of  the  characters  in  Ibsen's  Pretenders. 


Bodde,  and  nearly  all  that  we  do  know  comes  from  a 
speech  which  he  is  reported  to  have  delivered  in  his  own 
defence  in  1217.*  He  entered  King  Sverre's  service  "  be- 
fore the  fight  was  at  Strindsea,"  which  was  fought  in  the 
summer  of  1199.  This  was  also  the  year  in  which  King 
Sverre  seems  to  have  issued  his  famous  Address.  "  I  had 
good  cheer  from  the  king  while  he  lived,  and  I  served 
him  so  that  at  last  I  knew  almost  all  his  secret  matters." 
In  King  Inge's  reign  (1204-1217)  he  served  in  the  ca- 
pacity of  chancellor:  "  and  that  besides,  which  was 
much  against  my  wish,  they  relied  on  me  for  writing 
letters."  During  the  same  reign  he  also  served  as  Prince 
Hakon's  foster  father,  and  was  consequently  responsible 
for  the  education  of  the  great  king.f  Ivar  was  also 
skilled  in  military  arts:  he  was  a  warrior  as  well  as  a 
priest .J  He  was  apparently  twice  sent  to  England  on 
diplomatic  errands,  first  to  the  court  of  King  John,  later 
to  that  of  Henry  III.§  He  withdrew  from  the  court  in 
1217.  In  1223  he  reappears  as  one  of  the  king's  chief 
counsellors.  After  this  year  nothing  is  known  of  Ivar 

The  author  of  the  King's  Mirror  was  a  professional 
churchman  who  belonged  to  the  ^nti-cleric^)f action ; 
he  was  a  master  of  the  literary  art.  Ivar  Bodde  was  a 
man  of  this  type;  nothing  is  known  of  his  literary  abil- 
ities, but  it  is  clear  that  a  man  who  was  entrusted  with 
the  king's  correspondence  can  not  have  been  without 

*  Hdkonar  Saga,  c.  21. 

t  Historiske  Skrifter  tilegnede  Ludvig  Daae,  88-89  (Heffermehl) ;  Hdkonar 

Saga,  c.  20. 

I  Historiske  Skrifter  tilegnede  Ludvig  Daae,  80. 

§  Ibid.,  81, 85. 


literary  skill.  There  seems  to  be  no  reason  why  Ivar 
Bodde  could  not  have  written  the  King's  Mirror,  and  he 
may  also  have  had  a  hand  in  the  preparation  of  Sverre's 
Address;  but  that  he  actually  did  write  either  or  both 
of  these  important  works  has  not  yet  been  proved ;  there 
may  have  been  other  priests  in  Norway  in  the  thirteenth 
century  who  stood  for  the  divine  right  of  Norwegian 

From  certain  geographical  allusions  it  is  quite  clear 
that  the  work  was  written  in  Norway  and  in  some  part 
of  the  country  that  would  be  counted  far  to  the  north. 
The  author  mentions  two  localities  in  the  Lofoten  region 
and  he  shows  considerable  knowledge  of  conditions  else- 
where in  Halogaland;  *  but  it  is  evident  that  he  did  not 
reside  in  that  part  of  the  kingdom  when  he  was  at  work 
on  his  great  treatise.  It  is  generally  agreed  that  the 
home  of  the  Speculum  Regale  is  Namdalen,  a  region 
which  lies  northeast  of  the  city  of  Trondhjem  and 
which  touches  the  border  of  Halogaland  on  the  north. f 
This  conclusion  is  based  on  certain  astronomical  obser- 
vations on  the  part  of  the  author,  namely  the  length  of 
the  shortest  day,  the  daily  increase  in  the  length  of  the 
day,  and  the  relationship  between  the  length  of  the 
sun's  path  and  the  sun's  altitude  at  noon  of  the  longest 
and  the  shortest  day.J  The  Norwegian  astronomer  Hans 
Geelmuyden  has  determined  that  if  the  author's  state- 
ments on  these  points  are  to  be  regarded  as  scientific 
computations,  they  indicate  a  latitude  of  65°,  64°  42', 
and  64°  52'  respectively.  All  these  points  lie  within  the 


f  See  the  Sorb"  edition,  pp.  lix-lx;  the  Christiaua  edition,  p.  v. 

J  Cc.  vi,  vii. 


shire  of  Namdalen.*  As  the  author  can  scarcely  have 
been  much  more  than  a  layman  in  the  fields  of  mathe- 
matics and  astronomy,  the  agreement  as  to  results  ob- 
tained is  quite  remarkable. 

The  problem  of  place  is  relatively  unimportant,  but 
the  question  of  the  date  of  composition  has  more  than 
mere  literary  interest.  There  is  nothing  in  the  work  it- 
self which  gives  any  clue  to  the  year  when  it  was  begun 
or  completed.  It  seems  evident,  however,  that  it  was 
written  after  the  period  of  the  civil  wars,  though  while 
the  terrors  of  that  century  of  conflicts  were  yet  fresh  in 
the  memories  of  men.  For  various  other  reasons,  too, 
it  is  clear  that  the  King's  Mirror  was  composed  in  the 
thirteenth  century  and  more  specifically  during  the 
reign  of  Hakon  IV. 

The  allusion  to  the  Byzantine  emperor  Manuel  Com- 
nenus,f  whose  reign  began  in  1143,  gives  a  definite  date 
from  which  any  discussion  of  this  problem  must  begin. 
It  is  also  clear  that  the  work  was  written  after  the  church 
had  begun  to  lay  claim  to  power  in  the  government  of 
the  state,  which  was  in  11634  The  a.uthor  looks  back  to 
an  evil  time  when  minorities  were  frequent  and  joint 
kingships  were  the  rule;  §  but  the  period  of  joint  rule 
virtually  came  to  a  close  in  1184  when  Sverre  became 
sole  king;  and  the  last  boy  king  whom  the  author  can 
have  taken  into  account  was  Hakon  IV,  who  was  thir- 
teen years  old  when  he  was  given  the  royal  title.  It 
therefore  seems  evident  that  the  King's  Mirror  was 
written  after  1217,  the  year  of  Hakon's  accession. 

*  "  Om  Stedet  for  KongespeUets  Forfattelse  ":  Arkiv  for  nordisk  Filologi,  L 


t  C.  viii.  J  See  above,  p.  36.  §  See  above,  pp.  33-35. 


On  the  other  hand,  it  is  also  quite  evident  that  the 
treatise  can  not  have  been  written  after  the  great  re- 
vision of  the  Norwegian  laws  which  was  carried  out 
during  the  reign  of  Magnus  Lawmender.  The  new  court- 
law,  which  was  promulgated  about  1275,  is  clearly  later 
than  the  Speculum  Regale:  the  fine  exacted  for  the  death 
of  a  king's  thegn,  which  is  given  as  forty  marks  in  the 
King's  Mirror,  is  fixed  at  a  little  more  than  thirteen 
marks  in  Magnus'  legislation.  In  1273  the  law  regu- 
lating the  succession  to  the  throne  made  impossible  the 
recurrence  of  joint  kingships;  but  the  principle  of  this 
arrangement  appears  to  have  been  accepted  as  early  as 
1260,  when  the  king's  son  Magnus  was  given  the  royal 
title.  Another  decree,  apparently  also  from  Hakon's 
reign,  which  abolished  the  responsibility  of  kinsmen  in 
cases  of  manslaughter  and  deprived  the  relatives  of  the 
one  who  was  slain  of  their  share  in  the  blood  fine,  also 
runs  counter  to  methods  described  in  the  King's  Mirror, 
which  states  distinctly  that  kinsmen  share  in  the  pay- 
ment.* It  is  therefore  safe  to  conclude  thatthe  work  was 
written  some  time  between  QQ17  and  1260J) 

The  earliest  attempt  to  date  the  King's  Mirror  was 
made  by  the  learned  Icelander,  Hans  Finsen.  In  an 
essay  included  in  the  Soro  edition  (1768)  he  fixes  the 
time  at  about  1164.f  J.  Erichsen,  who  wrote  the  intro- 
duction to  this  edition,  doubts  that  it  was  composed  at 
so  early  a  date;  impressed  with  the  fact  that  the  work 
reflects  the  political  views  of  the  Birchshank  faction,  he 
is  inclined  to  place  the  date  of  composition  some  time 
in  Sverre's  reign  or  in  the  last  decade  of  the  twelfth 

*  C.  xxxvi  (p.  201) .  f  See  page  xx  of  the  Soro  edition. 


century.*  The  striking  resemblance  between  the  ideas 
expressed  in  the  treatise  and  the  guiding  principles  of 
Sverre's  regime  led  the  editors  of  the  Christiania  edition 
to  the  same  conclusion:  1196  or  soon  after,  f  And  so  it 
was  held  that  the  work  is  a  twelfth  century  document 
until  a  Danish  artillery  officer,  Captain  Otto  Blom,  be- 
gan to  make  a  careful  study  of  the  various  types  of 
weapons,  armor,  and  siege  engines  mentioned  in  the 
work.  His  conclusion,  published  in  1867,  was  that  the 
King's  Mirror  reflects  the  military  art  of  the  thirteenth 
century  and  that  the  manuscript  was  composed  in  the 
latter  half  of  the  century,  at  any  rate  not  long  before 
1260.J  This  conclusion  has  been  accepted  by  Gustav 
Storm,  §  Ludvig  Daae,||  and  virtually  all  who  have 
written  on  the  subject  since  Blom's  study  appeared, 
except  Heffermehl,  whose  belief  that  Ivar  Bodde  was 
the  author  could  not  permit  so  late  a  date,  as  Ivar,  who 
was  a  man  of  prominence  at  Sverre's  court  about  1200, 
must  have  been  an  exceedingly  aged  man,  if  he  were 
still  living  in  1260.  Heffermehl  is,  therefore,  compelled 
to  force  the  date  of  composition  back  to  the  decade 

The  weakness  of  Captain  Blom's  argument  is  that  he 
supposes  the  military  art  described  in  the  Speculum 
Regale  to  be  the  military  art  of  the  North  at  the  time 
when  the  work  was  written.  If  all  the  engines  and  ac- 
coutrements that  the  author  describes  ever  came  into 
use  in  the  North,  it  was  long  after  1260*  Nearly  all  the 

*  See  pages  Ixv-lxvi  of  the  Sorb"  edition.  |  Christiania  edition,  p.  viii. 

I  Aarbogerfor  nordisk  Oldkyndighed,  1867,  65-109.  See  above,  p.  32. 
§  Arkivfor  nordisk  Filologi,  III,  83-88. 
||  Aarbogerfor  nordisk  Oldkyndighed,  1896,  176-177. 


weapons  and  devices  mentioned  were  in  use  in  southern 
Europe  and  in  the  Orient  in  earlier  decades  of  the  thir- 
teenth century;  some  of  them  belong  to  much  earlier 
times.  If  certain  engines  and  devices  which  Captain 
Blom  is  disposed  to  regard  as  mythical  are  left  out  of 
account,  it  will  be  found  that  only  three  items  fail  to 
appear  in  illustrations  from  the  earlier  part  of  the  thir- 
teenth century;  and  it  would  not  be  safe  to  assume  that 
these  were  not  in  use  because  no  drawing  of  them  has 
been  found. 

Viewed  against  the  background  of  Norwegian  history, 
those  chapters  of  the  King's  Mirror  which  deal  with  the 
nature  and  the  rights  of  monarchy  and  with  the  place  of 
the  church  in  the  state  take  on  the  appearance  of  a  po- 
litical pamphlet  written  to  defend  and  justify  the  doings 
of  the  Birchshank  party.  The  motives  for  composing  an 
apology  of  this  sort  may  be  found  at  almost  any  time  in 
the  thirteenth  century  but  especially  during  the  decade 
that  closed  with  the  coronation  of  Hakon  IV.  It  will  be 
remembered  that  the  author  of  the  King's  Mirror  dis- 
cusses the  calamities  that  may  befall  a  kingdom  as  a 
result  of  joint  rule.*  But  in  1235,  after  one  of  Earl 
Skule's  periodic  attempts  at  rebellion,  his  royal  son-in- 
law  granted  him  the  administration  of  one-third  of  the 
realm.  The  grant  was  ratified  the  next  year  with  certain 
changes :  instead  of  a  definite,  compact  fief  the  earl  now 
received  territories  everywhere  in  the  kingdom.  In  1237 
Skule  was  given  the  ducal  title  and  to  many  men  it 
seemed  as  if  the  curse  of  joint  kingship  was  about  to 
afflict  the  land  once  more.  Two  years  later  the  partisans 

*  C.  xxxvi. 


of  the  duke  proclaimed  him  king:  like  Adonijah  of  old 
he  tried  to  displace  the  Lord's  anointed.*  But  after  a 
few  months  came  the  surprise  of  Skule's  forces  in 
Trondhjem  and  the  duke's  own  tragic  end  in  Elgesseter 
convent.f  It  will  be  recalled  that  the  author  defends 
King  Solomon's  dealings  with  Joab  and  lays  down  the 
principle  that  the  right  of  sanctuary  will  not  hold 
against  a  king.f  The  rebellion  of  the  Norwegian  Ado- 
nijah was  in  1239;  he  died  the  death  of  Joab  in  1240. 
Three  years  later  the  believers  in  a  strong  monarchy 
were  disturbed  by  the  news  that  the  bishops  had  revived 
the  old  claim  to  supremacy  in  the  state.  Soon  after  this 
series  of  events  the  political  chapters  of  the  King's  Mir- 
ror must  have  been  composed. 

In  1247,  the  year  of  Hakon's  coronation,  the  hierarchy 
was  once  more  reconciled  to  the  monarchy,  and  nothing 
more  is  heard  of  ecclesiastical  pretensions  during  the  re- 
mainder of  the  reign.  It  would  seem  that  after  this  recon- 
ciliation, no  churchman,  at  least  not  one  of  the  younger 
generation,  would  care  to  send  such  a  challenge  as  the 
King's  Mirror  out  into  the  world.  One  of  the  older  men, 
one  who  had  suffered  with  Sverre  and  his  impoverished 
Birchshanks,  might  have  wished  to  write  such  a  work 
even  after  1247;  but  after  that  date  the  surviving  fol- 
lowers of  the  eloquent  king  must  have  been  very  few 
indeed,  seeing  that  Sverre  had  now  lain  forty-five  years  in 
the  grave.  It  is  therefore  the  writer's  opinion,  though  it 
cannot  be  regarded  as  a  demonstrated  fact,  that  the  clos- 
ing chapters  of  the  King's  Mirror  were  written  after 
1240,  the  year  when  Duke  Skule  was  slain,  perhaps  after 

*  C.  Ixvi.  f  See  above,  p.  48.  }  C.  Ixix. 


1243,  in  which  year  Norwegian  clericalism  reasserted  it- 
self, but  some  time  before  1247,  the  year  of  Hakon's  cor- 
onation and  final  reconciliation  with  the  church. 

In  the  centuries  following  its  composition  the  King's 
Mirror  appears  to  have  had  wide  currency  in  the  North. 
When  the  editors  of  the  Sorb*  edition  began  to  search  for 
manuscripts,  they  found  a  considerable  number,  though 
chiefly  fragments,  in  Norway  and  Iceland;  and  traces  of 
the  work  were  also  found  in  Sweden.*  Thus  far  twenty- 
five  manuscripts  have  come  to  light;  "  some  of  them 
are  extensive,  but  many  are  fragments  of  only  a  few 
leaves. "f  Copies  of  the  work  were  made  as  late  as  the 
reformation  period  and  even  later. 

The  first  mention  of  the  Speculum  Regale  in  any 
printed  work  is  in  Peder  Claussb'n's  "  Description  of 
Nor  way,  "J  the  manuscript  of  which  dates  from  the 
earlier  years  of  the  seventeenth  century.  But  more  than 
one  hundred  years  were  still  to  pass  before  this  impor- 
tant work  was  brought  to  the  attention  of  the  literary 
world.  Early  in  the  eighteenth  century,  however,  great 
interest  began  to  be  shown  in  the  records  of  the  Old 
Northern  past.  The  great  Icelandic  scholar  and  antiqua- 
rian, Arne  Magnussen,  had  begun  to  collect  manuscripts 
and  was  laying  the  foundation  of  the  Arnamagnean  col- 
lection, which  is  one  of  the  treasures  of  the  Danish  cap- 

*  See  the  Soro  edition,  pp.  xxix-xxxvii. 

f  Konungs  Skuggsjd  (ed.  G.  T.  Fiona),  p.  i.  Among  the  fragments  is  a  part  of 
a  Latin  paraphrase  made  in  Sweden  in  the  first  hah*  of  the  fourteenth  cen- 
tury. The  translator  was  a  cleric  in  the  service  of  the  Duchess  Ingeborg,  a 
daughter  of  the  Norwegian  King  Hakon  V.  Ingeborg  was  married  to  the 
Swedish  Duke  Erik.  Arkivfor  nordisk  Fttologi,  I,  110-112. 
t  Norrigis  Bescriffuelse.  See  Aarboger  for  nordisk  Oldkyndighed,  1896,  172 


ital.  Among  other  things  he  found  several  copies  and 
fragments  of  manuscripts  of  the  Speculum  Regale.  No 
effort  was  made  to  publish  any  of  these  before  the  mid- 
dle of  the  century  was  past;  but  about  1760  three  young 
scholars  began  to  plan  editions  of  this  famous  work. 
The  first  to  undertake  this  task  was  Professor  Gerhard 
Schoning,*  a  Norwegian  by  birth,  who  was  at  the  time 
rector  of  the  Latin  school  in  Trondhjem  but  later  held 
a  professorship  in  the  Danish  academy  at  Soro.  Scho- 
ning began  the  preparation  of  a  Latin  translation  of  the 
work,  which  he  planned  to  publish  along  with  the  origi- 
nal version;  but  his  work  was  never  completed.  About 
the  same  time  an  Icelandic  student  at  the  University  of 
Copenhagen,  Hans  Finsen,f  later  bishop  in  his  native 
island,  projected  an  edition,  but  was  unable  to  carry 
out  his  plans  for  want  of  a  publisher,  and  turned  his  ma- 
terials over  to  others.  The  third  and  only  successful 
attempt  at  publication  was  made  on  the  suggestion  of 
a  recently  organized  association  of  Icelandic  scholars 
known  as  "  the  Invisible  "  society.  This  association  re- 
quested Halfdan  Einersen,J  rector  of  the  Latin  school 
at  Holar,  one  of  the  members  and  founders  of  the  "  in- 
visible "  body,  to  prepare  an  edition.  An  Icelandic  mer- 
chant, Soren  Pens,  generously  offered  to  bear  all  the 
expense  of  publication.! 

Rector  Einersen  prepared  the  text  from  the  best  avail- 
able Icelandic  manuscripts.  He  also  made  a  Danish 

*  Schoning's  dates  are  1722-1780.  He  was  professor  of  Latin  literature  and 
history  at  Soro,  but  his  real  achievements  lie  in  the  field  of  Norwegian  history, 
f  1739-1796.  t  1732-1785. 

§  See  the  introduction  to  the  Soro  edition,  xxv-xxviii,  from  which  the  above 
facts  have  been  culled. 


translation  and  a  Latin  paraphrase  of  the  same  and  for- 
warded the  whole  to  Denmark  to  be  published.  The 
materials  were  given  into  the  editorial  charge  of  another 
learned  Icelander,  Jon  Erichsen,  teacher  of  jurispru- 
dence at  Soro  Academy.  Although  Jon  Erichsen's  name 
does  not  appear  on  the  title  page,  it  is  quite  clear  that 
the  general  excellence  of  the  work  is  in  large  measure 
due  to  his  careful  collation  of  Einersen's  text  with  man- 
uscripts to  which  the  Icelandic  rector  had  not  had  ac- 
cess. Professor  Erichsen  discarded  Einersen's  Danish 
translation  and  prepared  one  of  his  own.  He  also  found 
place  in  the  volume  for  a  dissertation  by  Hans  Finsen, 
which  was  first  published  in  1766,  and  in  which  the 
learned  theologian  discusses  various  literary  problems, 
such  as  the  authorship  of  the  work,  the  date  of  compo- 
sition, and  the  like.  All  these  materials  were  brought  to- 
gether and  published  at  Soro  in  1768.  On  the  whole  the 
Soro  edition  is  an  excellent  piece  of  work.  The  Icelandic 
text  was  made  with  great  care  and  reveals  the  fact  that 
the  editors  were  possessed  of  a  critical  insight  which  for 
the  time  was  remarkable.  The  Danish  translation  is 
somewhat  stiff  and  literal  and  does  not  always  follow 
the  laws  of  Danish  syntax;  but  it  is  generally  accurate 
and  retains  an  unmistakable  flavor  of  the  Old  Norse 

Except  for  some  assistance  rendered  by  Professor 
Scheming,  the  first  edition  of  the  King's  Mirror  was 
the  work  of  Icelanders.  The  Norwegians  were  also  be- 
ginning to  show  some  interest  in  their  medieval  past; 
but  Norway  was  still  a  part  of  the  Danish  monarchy, 
the  political  and  intellectual  center  of  which  was  Co- 


penhagen,  and  for  half  a  century  longer  the  Norwegians 
were  unable  to  do  anything  to  promote  the  publication 
of  historical  materials.  However,  four  years  after  the 
Soro  edition  had  come  from  the  press,  a  society  of  Norse- 
men at  the  University  of  Copenhagen  was  organized,  the 
purpose  of  which  was  to  further  the  cause  of  Norwegian 
autonomy.  After  Norway  in  1814  resumed  her  place 
among  the  nations  of  Europe,  it  was  only  natural  that 
Norwegian  scholars  should  be  attracted  to  the  Old 
Norse  treasures  of  the  middle  ages.  So  far  as  the  means 
of  the  impoverished  state  would  allow,  publication  of 
the  sources  of  Norwegian  history  was  undertaken.  The 
first  Norwegian  historian  of  distinction  was  Rudolf  Key- 
ser,  professor  in  the  University  of  Christiania.  In  his 
efforts  to  draw  the  attention  of  his  countrymen  to  the 
glories  of  earlier  centuries,  he  was  soon  reenforced  by 
his  younger  contemporary,  the  fiery  and  industrious 
scholar  and  investigator  Peter  Andreas  Munch,  who, 
though  his  work  is  somewhat  marred  by  the  fervor  of 
his  patriotism,  has  not  yet  found  a  superior  among  the 
historians  of  the  North.  Soon  a  third  was  added  to  these 
two:  Carl  R.  Unger,  a  man  of  remarkable  abilities  as  a 
linguist.  These  three  now  undertook  to  edit  a  series  of 
Old  Norse  texts,  among  which  was  the  King's  Mirror, 
which  was  published  under  the  auspices  of  the  Univer- 
sity of  Christiania  in  1848. 

The  Christiania  edition  is  based  on  the  main  manu- 
script of  the  Speculum  Regale,  the  manuscript  243  B  of 
the  Arnamagnean  collection.  This  was  produced  in  Nor- 
way some  time  during  the  last  quarter  of  the  thirteenth 


century,  perhaps  not  long  after  1275.*  As  the  manu- 
script was  incomplete  in  part,  the  editors  also  made  use 
of  the  copies  which  had  been  made  the  basis  of  the  ear- 
lier edition.  Inasmuch  as  the  materials  to  be  used  had 
been  copied  at  different  times  and  consequently  reflected 
various  stages  of  linguistic  development,  it  was  thought 
desirable  to  normalize  the  orthography:  and  in  this  part 
of  their  task  the  editors  made  use  of  a  fragment  which 
was  thought  to  belong  to  a  somewhat  earlier  date  than 
the  main  manuscript. f  If  this  belief  is  correct,  the  Chris- 
tiania  edition  must,  in  respect  to  orthography,  be  a  com- 
paratively close  approximation  of  the  original  manu- 

In  1881  a  third  edition  prepared  by  the  German  phi- 
lologist Otto  Brenner  was  published  under  the  title 
Speculum  Regale,  ein  altnorwegischer  Dialog.  Brenner 
based  his  text  on  the  Norwegian  manuscript  243  B, 
but  he  also  made  use  of  the  Icelandic  copy  (243  A)  and 
of  some  of  the  older  fragments.  His  edition  consequently 
includes  all  the  materials  that  had  been  used  in  the  ear- 
lier editions.  It  was  Brenner's  purpose  to  prepare  a  text 
which  should  give  the  Norwegian  version  in  its  original 
form,  so  far  as  such  a  restoration  is  possible.  Though 
scholars  are  not  agreed  that  Brenner  achieved  his  pur- 
pose, all  have  acknowledged  the  value  of  his  work,  and 
since  its  publication  his  version  has  been  regarded  as 
the  standard  edition. 

Two  years  ago  (1915)  the  University  of  Illinois  pub- 
lished, under  the  editorial  direction  of  Professor  George 

*  See  Flom's  edition  of  Konungs  Skuggsjd,  introduction, 
t  See  the  Christiania  edition,  pp.  xiii-xvi. 


T.  Flom,  a  photographic  reproduction  of  this  same  man- 
uscript, 243  B.  This  important  linguistic  monument 
has  thus  been  made  accessible  to  scholars  in  its  original 
form.  Professor  Flom  has  also  prepared  the  Old  Norse 
text  of  the  manuscript,  which  makes  a  part  of  the  pub- 
lication, and  has  prefaced  the  whole  with  an  extended 
introduction  in  which  he  discusses  the  history  of  the 
manuscript,  marginal  addenda,  abbreviations,  and  other 
paleographic  and  linguistic  problems. 

Until  very  recently  the  Danish  version  prepared  by 
Jon  Erichsen  for  the  Soro  edition  was  the  only  transla- 
tion of  the  Speculum  Regale  into  a  modern  language.* 
But  a  few  years  ago  the  first  part  of  the  work  was  pub- 
lished under  the  title  Kongespegelen  in  the  form  of  a 
translation  into  New  Norse,  a  language  of  recent  origin 
based  on  the  spoken  dialects  of  Norway.  As  these  dia- 
lects are  closely  related  to  the  original  idiom  of  the 
North,  such  a  translation  can  be  made  with  comparative 
ease.  The  work  has  recently  been  completed,  and  in 
most  respects  the  New  Norse  version  proves  to  be  a 
very  satisfactory  translation. 

Some  years  ago  a  number  of  American  scholars  who 
have  interests  in  the  fields  of  Scandinavian  history,  lan- 
guage, and  literature  united  to  form  a  Society  for  the 
Advancement  of  Scandinavian  Study.  The  founders  be- 
lieved that  the  purpose  of  the  organization  might  be  in 
part  achieved  by  encouraging  the  publication  of  some 
of  the  great  Scandinavian  classics  in  English  transla- 
tion. It  was  on  the  suggestion  of  this  Society  that  the 

*  In  1892  a  small  volume  of  extracts  from  the  King's  Mirror  translated  by 
Chr.  Dorph  was  published  in  Copenhagen. 


writer  undertook  to  prepare  the  present  version  of  the 
King's  M'irror.  The  translation  is  based  on  the  text  of 
the  Christiania  edition,  the  readings  of  which  have  been 
consistently  followed,  except  in  a  few  instances  where 
the  scribe  does  not  seem  to  have  copied  his  manuscript 
correctly;  in  such  cases  the  most  satisfactory  variant 
readings  have  been  followed. 


1  PASSED  all  the  crafts  before  my  mind's  eye  and 
studied  intently  all  the  practices  belonging  to  each 
craft;  and  I  saw  a  vast  multitude  walking  wearily  along 
the  paths  that  slope  downward  from  the  highways  of 
virtue  into  error  and  vice.  Some  of  these  were  very  steep, 
and  those  who  followed  them  perished  in  desolate  ra- 
vines; for  the  long,  wearisome  road  had  fatigued  them, 
and  they  had  not  enough  strength  left  to  climb  up  the 
hillside,  nor  were  they  able  to  find  the  by-paths  that  led 
back  to  the  highways  of  virtue. 

[The  destruction  of  this  multitude  was  due,  it  seemed 
to  me,  to  various  causes:  some  perished  through  igno- 
rance, for  the  ways  of  error  were  trodden  so  generally 
that  they  appeared  to  be  the  most  convenient  to  follow, 
and  ignorant  men  mistook  them  for  highways,  since  the 
majority  seemed  to  walk  in  them;  some  perished  be- 
cause of  laziness  and  carelessness;  others  feared  that 
they  would  suffer  derision  and  contumely,  if  they  walked 
the  highroad  alone;  while  still  others  were  led  astray  by 
perversity,  wickedness,  and  the  various  passions.] 

But  when  I  had  observed  how  good  morals  were 
scorned  and  how  the  scorners  perished,  I  began  to  won- 
der how  to  find  a  road  where  I  should  not  be  traveling 
entirely  alone  and  yet  would  not  have  to  choose  one  of 
those  paths  where  the  crowd  were  exhausting  their 



strength,  lest  the  steep  climb  should  weary  me,  if  I 
were  to  make  an  effort  to  get  back  up  again. 
£  Inasmuch  as  my  father  was  still  living  and  loved  me  ) 
well,  I  thought  it  would  be  better  to  seek  his  counsel  / 
than  after  a  slight  consideration  to  reach  a  decision  C 
which  might  displease  him.JSo  I  hastened  to  my  father 
and  laid  the  whole  problem  before  him.  He  was  a  wise 
and  kind  man,  and  I  found  that  he  was  pleased  when 
he  heard  that  my  errand  was  to  learn  right  conduct.  He 
permitted  me  to  ask  whatever  I  wished  about  the  prac- 
tices of  the  various  crafts,  and  how  they  differed.  He 
also  promised  to  make  known  to  me  all  the  usages  that 
are  most  properly  observed  by  each  craft  that  I  might 
ask  about.  He  further  promised  to  point  out,  as  a  warn- 
ing, the  paths  of  error  which  most  men  enter  upon  when 
they  leave  the  highways  of  virtue.  Finally  he  promised 
to  show  me  the  by-paths  that  those  may  take  who 
wish  to  return  from  wrong  roads  to  the  highway. 


Thereupon  I  began  my  inquiry  by  asking  about  the 
activities  of  merchants  and  their  methods.  At  the  close 
of  the  first  discussion,  when  my  questions  had  all  been 
answered,  I  became  bolder  in  speech  and  mounted  to  a 
higher  point  in  our  review  of  the  conditions  of  men;  for 
next  I  began  to  inquire  into  the  customs  of  kings  and 
other  princes  and  of  the  men  who  follow  and  serve  them. 
Nor  did  I  wholly  omit  to  ask  about  the  doings  of  the 
clergy  and  their  mode  of  life.  And  I  closed  by  inquiring 

into  the  activities  of  the  peasants  and  husbandmen,  w}10 
till  the  soil,  and  into  their  habits  and  occupation. 

But  when  my  father  had  given  wise  and  sufficient  re- 
plies to  all  the  questions  that  I  had  asked,  certain  wise 


and  worthy  men,  who,  being  present,  had  heard  my 
questions  and  his  wise  and  truthful  answers,  requested 
me  to  note  down  all  our  conversations  and  set  them  in 
a  book,  so  that  our  discussions  should  not  perish  as  soon 
as  we  ceased  speaking,  but  prove  useful  and  enjoyable 
to  many  who  could  derive  no  pastime  from  us  who  were 
present  at  these  conversations. 

So  I  did  as  they  advised  and  requested.  I  searched  my 
memory  and  pondered  deeply  upon  the  speeches  and 
set  them  all  in  a  book,  not  only  for  the  amusement  or 
the  fleeting  pastime  of  those  who  may  hear  them,  but 
for  the  help  which  the  book  will  offer  in  many  ways  to 
all  who  read  it  with  proper  attention  and  observe  care- 
fully everything  that  it  prescribes.  It  is  written  in  such 
a  way  as  to  furnish  information  and  entertainment,  as 
well  as  much  practical  knowledge,  if  the  contents  are 
carefully  learned  and  remembere.d.  But  whoever  has 
clear  and  proper  insight  will  realize  that,  if  a  book  is  to 
develop  these  subjects  fully,  it  will  have  to  be  a  much 
larger  work  than  this  one. 

The  book  has  been  given  a  handsome  title :  it  is  called 
Speculum  Regale,  not  because  of  pride  in  him  who  wrote 
it,  but  because  the  title  ought  to  make  those  who  hear 
it  more  eager  to  know  the  work  itself;  and  for  this  rea- 
son, too,  that  if  any  one  wishes  to  be  informed  as  to 
proper  conduct,  courtesy,  or  comely  and  precise  forms 
of  speech,  he  will  find  and  see  these  therein  along  with 
many  illustrations  and  all  manner  of  patterns,  as  in  a 
bright  mirror.  And  it  is  called  King's  Mirror,  because  in 
it  one  may  read  of  the  manners  of  kings  as  well  as  of 
other  men._A  king,  moreover,  holds  the  highest  title  and 


ought,  with  his  court  and  all  his  servants,  to  observe  the 
most  proper  customs,  so  that  in  them  his  subjects  may 
see  good  examples  of  proper  conduct,  uprightness,  and 
all  other  courtly  virtues.  Besides,  every  king  should  look 
frequently  into  this  mirror  and  observe  first  his  own  con- 
duct and  next  that  of  the  men  who  are  subject  to  him. 

~"  -•—      *.  (?o\-<  —  ^>\ 

He  should  reward  all  whose  conduct  is  good,  but  should 

discipline  and  compel  those  to  observe  good  morals  who  =>  r\v 

cannot  learn  without  threats.  Although  the  book  is  first 
and  foremost  a  king's  mirror,  yet  it  is  intended  for  every 
one  as  a  common  possession;  since  whoever  wishes  is 
free  to  look  into  it  and  to  seek  information,  as  he  may 
desire,  about  his  own  conduct,  or  any  other  type  of 
manners  which  he  may  find  discussed  in  the  book.  And 
I  believe  that  no  man  will  be  considered  unwise  or  un- 
mannerly who  carefully  observes  everything  that  he 
finds  in  this  work  which  is  suited  to  his  mode  of  living, 
no  matter  what  his  rank  or  title  may  be. 

If  any  one  desires  or  is  curious  to  hear  or  study  this 
book,  he  need  not  inquire  about  the  name  or  the  stand- 
ing of  the  man  who  composed  and  wrote  it,  lest  per- 
chance he  should  reject  what  may  be  found  useful  in  it 
because  of  contempt,  envy,  or  hostile  feeling  of  some 
sort  for  the  author.* 

*  It  seems  probable  that  the  form  in  which  the  author  of  the  Speculum  ex- 
presses his  desire  to  remain  anonymous  shows  the  influence  of  the  Old  Norse 
version  of  the  Elucidarium,  a  theological  discussion  in  dialog  form,  which 
dates  from  the  twelfth  century  and  is  ascribed  to  Honor ius  of  Autun.  The 
author  of  the  Elucidarium  writes  as  follows  in  his  preface:  "  My  name,  how- 
ever, I  have  purposely  withheld,  lest  wicked  men  should  be  prompted  by  a 
feeling  of  envy  to  cast  aside  a  useful  work."  For  the  original  Latin  preface 
to  the  Elucidarium  see  Migne,  Patrohgia  Latina,  CLXXII,  1110;  the  Old 
Norse  version  is  given  in  Annaler  for  nordisk  Oldkyndighed,  1857,  p.  240, 
1858,  p.  24. 


This  request,  however,  which  surely  may  be  granted 
to  any  man,  we  should  like  to  make:  we  ask  all  good 
men  who  hear  this  book  to  give  it  careful  thought  and 
study;  and  if  there  should  be  aught  which  seems  neces- 
sary to  the  work  but  has  not  been  included,  whether 
concerning  morals  and  conduct  or  discreet  and  proper 
forms  of  speech,  let  them  insert  it  in  proper  form  and 
connection.  And  if  they  find  any  matters  which  seem  to 
impair  the  work  or  to  have  been  discussed  at  too  great 
length,  let  them  discreetly  remove  all  such  and  thus, 
amending  our  ignorance  in  kindness,  help  our  work  to 
be  appreciated  in  proper  spirit.  For  it  was  not  pride  that 
impelled  us  to  labor  but  good- will  toward  all  who  seemed 
to  need  and  desire  knowledge  of  this  sort. 

When  I  went  to  my  father  with  these  inquiries  that  I 
have  now  mentioned,  I  learned  in  the  very  first  words 
£//*'  ^thatfr  addressed  to  him,  how  every  one  ought  to  salute 
C  or  address  one's  father /] 



Son.  Good  day,*  sire !  I  have  come  to  see  you  as  it  be- 
hooves a  humble  and  obedient  son  to  approach  a  loving 
and  renowned  father;  and  I  pray  you  to  listen  with  pa- 
tience to  the  questions  that  I  have  in  mind  to  ask  and 
kindly  to  vouchsafe  an  answer  to  each  one. 

Father.  Inasmuch  as  you  are  my  only  son,  I  am  pleased 
to  have  you  come  often  to  see  me,  for  there  are  many 
subjects  which  we  ought  to  discuss.  I  shall  be  glad  to 

*  Good  day  (God  dag)  is  still  the  common  form  of  greeting  among  Norwegians 
and  other  Scandinavians. 


hear  what  you  wish  to  inquire  about  and  to  answer  such 
questions  as  are  (Hiscreetly  asked/]  „/., 

Son.  I  have  heard  the  common  report  (which  I  be- 
lieve is  true)  as  to  your  wisdom,  that  in  all  the  land  it 
would  be  difficult  to  find  a  man  who  has  greater  insight 
into  every  form  of  knowledge  than  you  have;  for  all 
those  who  have  difficult  matters  to  settle  are  eager  to 
get  your  decision.  I  have  also  been  told  that  the  same 
was  true  (when  you  were  at  the  royal  court,  and  thaO  c  » 

the  entire  government,  lawmaking,  treaty  making,  and 
every  other  sort  of  business,  seemed  to  be  guided  fcy 
your  opinion]  Now  as  I  am  the  [lawful  heir  to  y*ur 
worldly  possessionsj  I  should  also  like  to  share  some- 
what in  the  heritage  of  your  wisdom.  Wherefore  I  wish 
to  have  you  point  out  to  me  the  beginnings  and  the  al- 
phabet of  wisdom,  as  far  as  I  am  able  to  learn  them  from 
you,  so  that  I  may  later  be  able  to  read  all  your  learned 
writings,  and  thus  follow  in  your  footsteps.  [F*r  I  am  7 
sure  that  after  your  decease  many  will  rely  on  your  hav-  ^ 
ing  trained  me  after  your  own  ways.  ~] 

Father.   It  pleases  me  to  hear  you  speak  in  this  wise, 
and  I  shall  be  glad  to  answer;  for  it  is  algreat  comfort  to 
me  that  I  shall  leave  much  wealth  for  my  own  true  son 
to  enjoy  after  my  daysj  but 5  should  scarcely  regard  him 
as  a  son,  though  I  had  begotten  him,  if  he  were  a  fool.] 
Now  if  you  seek  understanding,  I  will  show  you  the  basis 
and  the  beginning  of  all  wisdom,  as  a  great  and  wise  man 
once  expressed  it:[j:o  fear  Almighty  God,  this  is  the  be-  2 
ginning  of  wisdom. *JBut  He  is  not  to  be  feared  as  an^ 

*  Proverbs,  ix,  10.  In  the  use  of  Scriptural  quotations  the  author  is  seldom 


enemy,  but  rather  with  the  fear  of  love,  as  the  Son  of 
God  taught  the  man  who  asked  him  what  the  substance 
of  the  law  was.  For  the  Son  of  God  referred  him  to  the 
Scripture  that  reads  as  follows:  Thou  shalt  love  God 
with  all  thy  heart  and  with  all  thy  strength  and  with  all 
thy  might.*  Now  one  should  love  God  above  everything 
else  and  fear  Him  at  all  times  when  evil  desires  arise; 
he  should  banish  evil  longings  for  God's  sake,  though  he 
were  bold  enough  to  cherish  them  for  men's  sake.  Now 
if  you  wish  to  know  what  are  the  beginnings  and  the 
first  steps  in  the  pursuit  of  wisdom,  this  is  the  true  be- 
""'  C  ginning,  and  there  is  none  other.  Cfnd  whoever  learns 
~/T~*  **•*#/  this  and  observes  it  shall  not  be  wanting  in  true  knowl- 

/,  „  kr*/     V  -> 

edge  or  in  any  form  of  goodness,  j 

Son.  This  is  indeed  loving  counsel,  such  as  one  might 
expect  from  you;  besides,  it  is  good  and  easily  learned 


by  every  one  whom  fortune  follows.  Stilljjf  one  is  to  be 
reputed  a  wise  man,  it  will  surely  be  necessary  to  take 
up  many  things  that  pertain  to  the  various  crafts  .J 

Father.  This  is  the  beginning  and  the  alphabet  of 
every  good  thing.  But  through  the  alphabet  one  learns 
to  read  books,  and  in  the  same  way  it  is  always  better 
the  more  crafts  are  added  to  this  art.  For  through  the 
crafts  a  man  gains  wisdom  whatever  the  calling  that 
he  intends  to  follow,  whether  that  ofCkingsman,t  yeo- 
man, or  merchant// 

*  St.  Luke,  x,  27. 

t  A  "  kingsman  "  (konungsma&r)  was  any  one  who  had  formally  entered  into 
the  king's  personal  service,  whether  he  was  actually  employed  at  court  or  not. 
See  below,  cc.  xxiv  S. 





Son.  I  am  now  in  my  most  vigorous  years  and  have  a 
desire  to  travel  abroad;  for[I  would  not  venture  to  seek*) 
employment  at  court  before  I  had  observed  the  customs  T 
of  other  menJSuch  is  my  intention  at  present,  unless  you 
should  give  me  other  advice. 

Father.  Although  I  have  been  a  kingsman  rather  than 
a  merchant,  I  have  no  fault  to  find  with  that  calling,  for 
often  the  best  of  men  are  chosen  for  it.  But(much  de- 
pends on  whether  the  man  is  more  like  those  who  are 
true  merchants,  or  those  who  take  the  merchant's  name 
but  are  mere  frauds  and  foisterers,  buying  and  selling 


Son.  [It  would  be  more  seemly  for  me  to  be  like  the  ~)       $^j 
rightful  ones;  for  it  would  be  worse  than  one  might  L 
think  likely,  if  your  son  were  to  imitate  those  who  are    \ 
not  as  they  ought.] But  whatever  my  fate  is  to  be,  I  de-s 
sire  to  have  you  inform  me  as  to  the  practices  of  such 
men  as  seem  to  be  capable  in  that  business. 

Father.  The  man  who  is  to  be  a  trader  will  have  to 
brave  many  perils,  sometimes  at  sea  and  sometimes  in 
heathen  lands,*  but  nearly  always  among  alien  peoples; 
and  it  must  be  his  constant  purpose  to  act  discreetly 
wherever  he  happens  to  be.  On  the  sea  he  must  be  alert 
and  fearless. 

*  These  "  heathen  lands  "  were  probably  the  regions  along  the  Arctic  in- 
habited by  the  Finns;  it  is  also  possible  that  the  author  alludes  to  trading 
voyages  to  lands  occupied  by  Esquimaux,  though  he  makes  no  mention  of 
these  people  anywhere  in  his  work. 


/<L  yWhen  you  are  in  a  market  town,  or  wherever  you  are, 
£/     /be  polite  and  agreeable;  then  you  will  secure  the  friend- 
£  \ship  of  all  good  men.  Make  it  a  habit  to  rise  early  in  the 

\       morning,  and  go  first  and  immediately  to  church  wher- 
\      ever  'it  seems  most  convenient  to  hear  the  canonical 
\    hours,  and  hear  all  the  hours  and  mass  from  matins  on. 
J    Join  in  the  worship,  repeating  such  psalms  and  prayers 
as  you  have  learned.  When  the  services  are  over,  go  out 
\    to  look  after  your  business  affairs.  If  you  are  unac- 
quainted with  the  traffic  of  the  town,  observe  carefully 
how  those  who  are  reputed  the  best  and  most  prominent 
'  I     merchants  conduct  their  business.  [You  must  also  be 
careful  to  examine  the  wares  that  you  buy  before  the 
purchase  is  finally  made  to  make  sure  that  they  are 
sound  and  flawless.  And  whenever  you  make  a  purchase, 
\     call  in  a  few  trusty  men  to  serve  as  witnesses  as  to  how 
\  the  bargain  was  made.J 
Arv«n  should  keep  occupied  with  your  business  till 

breakfast  or,  if  necessity  demands  it,  till  midday;] after 
that  you  should  eat  your  meal.  [Keep  your  table  well 
provided  and  set  with  a  white  cloth,  clean  victuals,  and 
good  drinks.  Serve  enjoyable  meals,  if  you -can  afford  it.] 
After  the  meal  you  may  either  take  a  nap  or  stroll  about 
a  little  while  for  pastime  and  to  see  what  other  good 
merchants  are  employed  with,  or  whether  any  new  wares 
have  come  to  the  borough  which  you  ought  to  buy.  On 
returning  to  your  lodgings  examine  your  wares,  lest  they 
suffer  damage  after  coming  into  your  hands.  If  they  are 
found  to  be  injured  and  you  are  about  to  dispose  of 
themjjdo  not  conceal  the  flaws  from  the  purchaser:  show 
him  what  the  defects  are  and  make  such  a  bargain  as  you 

THE  KING'S  MIRROR        ^ 

can;  then  you  cannot  be  called  a  deceiver.^Also  put  a  / 
good  price  on  your  wares,  though  not  too  high,  and  yet  I 
very  near  what  you  see  can  be  obtained;  then  you  can- 
not be  called  a  foister.  ~] 

Finally,  remember  this,  that  whenever  you  have  an       p  . 
hour  to  spare  you  should  [give  thought  to  your  studies,? 
especially  to  the  law  books  ;]f or  it  is  clear  that  those  who?* 
gain  knowledge  from  books  have  keeiier__wii&  than  )  £& 
others,  since  those  who  are  the  most  learned  have  the 
best  proofs  for  their  knowledge.  Make  a  study  of  all  the 
laws,  but  while  you  remain  a  merchant  there  is  no  law 
that  you  will  need  to  know  more  thoroughly  than  the 
/JBjarkey  code.?J]lf  you  are  acquainted  with  the  law,  you 
will  not  be  annoyed  by  quibbles  when  you  have  suits  to 
bring  against  men  of  your  own  class,  but  will  be  able  to 
plead  according  to  law  in  every  case. 

But  although  I  have  most  to  say  about  laws,  I  regard 
no  man  perfect  in  knowledge  unless  he  has  thoroughly 
.learned  and  mastered  the  customs  of  the  place  where  he  ,  A, 

is  sojourning.  [And  if  you  wish  to  become  perfect  in 
knowledge,  you  must  learn  all  the  languages,  first  of  all 
Latin  and  French,  for  these  idioms  are  most  widely  usedJJ 
and  yet,  do  not  neglect  your  native  tongue  or  speech.^, 



Son.  May  God  reward  you,  sire,  for  the  love  of  kin- 
ship that  you  show  in  pointing  out  so  many  things  that 
I  may  find  needful,  —  if  I  have  the  good  fortune  to  learn 

*  The  "  Birch-isle  "  code  was  originally  a  set  of  rules  governing  commercial 
intercourse.  After  a  time  it  became  a  more  elaborate  law  governing  the  munici- 


them  and  to  remember  them  after  they  are  learned.  And 
if  you  think  there  are  any  other  important  matters  that 
ought  to  be  taken  up  in  this  discussion,  I  shall  be  glad 
to  listen  attentively. 

Father.  There  are,  indeed,  certain  matters  which 
should  not  be  omitted  from  this  discourse,  but  they  can 
be  stated  in  a  few  words,  if  that  seems  best.  Train  your- 
self to  be  as  active  as  possible,  though  not  so  as  to  injure 
your  health.  Strive  never  to  be  downcast,  for  a  downcast 
mind  is  always  morbid;  try  rather  to  be  friendly  and 
genial  at  all  times,  nf_g.n_pyen  temper  and  neverjmoody. 
Be  upright  and  teach  the  right  to  every  man  who  wishes 
to  learn  from  you;  and  always  associate  with  the  best 
men.  Guard  your  tongue  carefullv_i_this_is  good  counsel, 
for  your  tongue  may  honor  ^oj^JbutuLLjxiay.  also  con- 
jpjrm  ymi.  .Though  you_be^agry  speak  few  words  and 
jiever  in  passion  rfor^  unless  one  is  ^^^^jJ^J^y  utter 
JKQjds  jnwrath  that  he  would  later  give  gold  tphay_£. 
unspoken^Dn  the  whole,  I  know  of  no  revenge,  though 
many  employ  it,  that  profits  a  man  less  than  to  bandy 
heated  words  with  another,  even  though  he  has  a  quarrel 
to  settle  with  him.  You  shall  know  of  a  truth  that  no 
virtue  is  higher  or  stronger  than  the  power  to  keep  one's 
tongue  from  foul  or  profane  speech,  tattling,  or  slander- 
^fous  talk  in  any  form  .[if  children  be  given  to  you,  let 
4»  1  VjJbem  not  grow  up  without  learning  a  trade]]  for  we  may 

."  t<    ijl  expect  a  man  to  keep  closer  to  knowledge  and  business 

pality  as  well  as  the  traders  who  were  more  or  less  permanently  located  there. 
It  is  believed  that  the  name  is  derived  from  Birka,  a  trading  center  in  eastern 
Sweden  not  far  from  the  site  of  modern  Stockholm.  The  "  Birch-Isle  "  code 
is  published  in  Norges  Gamle  Love,  I,  part  iii,  303-336. 



when  he  comes  of  age,  if  he  is  trained  in  youth  while 
under  control. 

And  further,  there  are  certain  things  which  you  must 
beware  of  and  shun  like  the  devil  himself :  (Jhese  are  7 
drinking,  chess,  harlots,  quarreling,  and  throwing  dice  J 
fp£-  stakesj  For  upon  such   foundations  the  greatest  \ 
calamities  are  built;  and  unless  they  strive  to  avoid 
these  things,  few  only  are  able  to  live  long  without 
blame  or  sin. 

LObserve  carefully  how  the  sky  is  lighted,  the  course 
of  the  heavenly  bodies,  the  grouping  of  the  hours,  and 
the  points  of  the  horizonjLearn  also  how  to  mark  the  ^ 
movements  of  the  ocean  and  to  discern  how  its  turmoil 
ebbs  and  swells;  for  that  is  knowledge  which  all  must 
possess  who  wish  to  trade  abroad. ULearn  arithmetic 
thoroughly,  for  merchants  have  great  need  of  that.J^^^ 

Clf  you  come  to  a  place  where  the  king  or  some  other  "^ 
chief  who  is  in  authority  has  his  officials,  seek  to  win   / 
their  friendship;  and  if  they  demand  any  necessary  fees  / 
on  the  ruler's  behalf,  be  prompt  to  render  all  such  pay-  I 
ments,  lest  by  holding  too  tightly  to  little  things  you  \ 
lose  the  greater.  Also  beware  lest  the  king's  belongings    / 
find  their  way  into  your  purse;  for  you  cannot  know  but   \ 
that  he  may  be  covetous  who  has  those  things  in  charge,    / 
and  it  is  easier  to  be  cautious  beforehand  than  to  crave  / 
pardon  afterwards. Jlf  you  can  dispose  of  your  wares  at 
suitable  prices,  do  not  hold  them  long;  for  it  is  the  wont 
of  merchants  to  buy  constantly  and  to  sell  rapidly. 

If  you  are  preparing  to  carry  on  trade  beyond  the 
seas  and  you  sail  your  own  ship,  have  it  thoroughly 
coated  with  tar  in  the  autumn  and,  if  possible,  keep  it 





tarred  all  winter.  But  if  the  ship  is  placed  on  timbers  too 
late  to  be  coated  in  the  fall,  tar  it  when  spring  opens  and 
let  it  dry  thoroughly  afterwards.  Always  buy  shares  in 
good  vessels  or  in  none  at  all.  Keep  your  ship  attractive, 
for  then  capable  men  will  join  you  and  it  will  be  well 
manned.  Be  sure  to  have  your  ship  ready  when  summer 
begins  and  do  your  traveling  while  the  season  is  best. 
Keep  reliable  tackle  on  shipboard  at  all  times,  and  never 
remain  out  at  sea  in  late  autumn,  if  you  can  avoid  it.  If 
you  attend  carefully  to  all  these  things,  with  God's 
mercy  you  may  hope  for  success.  This,  too,  you  must 
keep  constantly  in  mind,  if  you  wish  to  be  counted  a 
wise  man.J^aj^vou  oughtjieyerjbojej: ,  a,  day  pass  with-  . 
out  learning  something  that  will  profil^oiuJBe  not  like 
those  who  think  it  bejQejELth»their~~4ignity-to  hear  or  learn 
from  others  such  thin^^3Z£B-a^--imritfr-ava41r4hem  much 
i  if  the,y_Jbie:ffi.Jiiem^  as  great 

A  an  honor  to  leariL.a&  to.  teachr  if he  wishes  to  be  con- 

\\  ^ — — — :  ~" 

sidefed  thoroughly  informed. 

There  remain  a  few  minor  matters  that  ought  to  be 
mentioned.  Whenever  you  travel  at  sea,  keep  on  board 
two  or  three  hundred  ells  of  wadmal  of  a  sort  suitable 
for  mending  sails,  if  that  should  be  necessary,  a  large 
number  of  needles,  and  a  supply  of  thread  and  cord.  It 
may  seem  trivial  to  mention  these  things,  but  it  is  often 
necessary  to  have  them  on  hand.  You  will  always  need 
to  carry  a  supply  of  nails,  both  spikes  and  rivets,  of  such 
sizes  as  your  ship  demands;  also  good  boat  hooks  and 
broadaxes,  gouges  and  augers,  and  all  such  other  tools 
as  ship  carpenters  make  use  of.  All  these  things  that  I 
have  now  named  you  must  remember  to  carry  with  you 


on  shipboard,  whenever  you  sail  on  a  trading  voyage 
and  the  ship  is  your  own. (When  you  come  to  a  market 
town  where  you  expect  to  tarry,  seek  lodgings  from  the< 
innkeeper  who  is  reputed  the  most  discreet  and  the  most 
popular  among  both  kingsmen  and  boroughmen^  Al- 
ways buy  good  clothes  and  eat  good  fare  if  your  means 
permit;  and  never  keep  unruly  or  quarrelsome  men  as 
attendants  or  messmates.  Keep  your  temper  calm  \ V 
though  notto  the  point  of  suffering^  abuse  or  bringing 
upon  yourself  the  reproach  of  cowardice.  Though 

sity  may_force_ypu  into  strife,  be  not  in  a  hurry  to  take 
revenge;  first  make  sure  that  your  effort  will  succeed 
and  strike  where  it  ought.  Never  display  a  heated  tem- 
per when  you  see  that  you  are  likely  to  fail,  but  be  sure 
to  maintain  your  honor  at  some  later  time,  unless  your 
opponent  should  offer  a  satisfactory  atonement. 
[If  your  wealth  takes  on  rapid  growth,  divide  it  and  / 
invest  it  in  a  partnership  trade  in  fields  where  you  do  V 
not  yourself  travel  ;Jbut  be  cautious  in  selecting  partners.  4 
CAlways  let  Almighty  God,  the  holy  Virgin  Mary,  and  9 
the  saint  whom  you  have  most  frequently  called  upon  I 
to  intercede  for  you  be  counted  among  your  partners.  j? 
Watch  with  care  over  the  property  which  the  saints  are  \ 
to  share  with  you  and  always  bring  it  faithfully  to  the    )  ^ 
place  to  which  it  was  originally  promised.  7 

If  you  have  much  capital  invested  in  trade,  divide  it  °\ 
into  three  parts:  put  one-third  into  partnerships  with    \      £^ 
men  who  are  permanently  located  in  market  boroughs, 
are  trustworthy,  and  are  experienced  in  business.  Place 
the  other  two  parts  in  various  business  ventures;  for  if 
your  capital  is  invested  in  different  places,  it  is  not  likely 


that  you  will  suffer  losses  in  all  your  wealth  at  one  time: 
more  likely  it  will  be  secure  in  some  localities,  though 
frequent  losses  be  suffered.  But  if  you  find  that  the 
profits  of  trade  bring  a  decided  increase  to  your  funds, 
draw  out  the  two-thirds  and  invest  them  in  good  farm 
land,  for  such  property  is  generally  thought  the  most 
secure,  whether  the  enjoyment  of  it  falls  to  one's  self  or 
to  one's  kinsmen^With  the  remaining  third  you  may  do 
as  seems  best,  —  continue  to  keep  it  in  business  or  place 
it  all  in  lanoQjlowever,  though  you  decide  to  keep  your 
funds  invested  in  trade,  discontinue  your  own  journeys 
at  sea  or  as  a  trader  in  foreign  fields,  as  soon  as  your 
means  have  attained  sufficient  growth  and  you  have 
studied  foreign  customs  as  much  as  you  likej  Keep  all 
that  you  see  in  careful  memory,  the  evil  with  the  good; 
remember  evil  practices  as  a  warning,  and  the  good 
customs  as  useful  to  yourself  and  to  others  who  may 
wish  to  learn  from  you. 



Son.  It  is  evident  that  whoever  wishes  to  become  in- 
formed on  such  matters  as  those  which  you  have  now 
discussed  must  first  try  to  determine  what  is  most  worth 
learning  and  afterwards  to  keep  in  mind  all  that  he  has 
heard.  But  in  your  discussion  just  recently  you  men- 
tioned several  things  the  nature  of  which  I  do  not  under- 
stand, though  I  have  reflected  upon  your  statements, 
namely,  the  lights  of  the  sky  and  the  movements  of  the 
ocean.  Moreover,  you  urged  me  to  learn  these  things 
and  stated  that  there  is  knowledge  in  learning  them.  But 



I  cannot  comprehend  them  unless  I  shall  hear  them  ex- 
plained; and  I  know  of  no  other  wise  master  with  so 
kind  a  will  to  teach  me  these  matters  as  yourself.  There- 
fore, with  your  permission,  I  will  ask  you  to  continue 
this  discussion,  so  that  I  may  become  somewhat  better 
informed  on  these  subjects:  how  the  lights  of  the  sky  and 
the  course  of  the  heavenly  bodies  wax  and  wane;  how 
the  time  of  the  day  is  told  and  the  hours  are  grouped; 
but  especially  how  the  ocean  moves  and  what  causes  its 
restlessness.  For  sometimes  the  ocean  appears  so  blithe 
and  cheerful  that  one  would  like  to  sport  with  it  through 
an  entire  season;  but  soon  it  displays  such  fierce  wrath 
and  ill-nature  that  the  life  and  property  of  those  who 
have  anything  to  do  with  it  are  endangered.  Now  I  have 
thought  that,  althoughfthe  sun  completes  its  course  ac-  7 
cording  to  an  established  lawjthat  fact  cannot  produce  5 
the  unquiet  of  the  sea.  If  you  are  disposed  to  explain 
these  things  further,  I  shall  listen  gladly  and  attentively. 
Father, fl  can  indeed  give  such  an  explanation,  just  as 
I  have  heard  it  from  the  lips  of  well-informed  men,  and 
as  seems  most  reasonable  according  to  the  insight  that 
God  has  given  me.  The  sun  has  received  divers  offices: 
for  it  brings  light  and  warmth  to  all  the  earth,  and  the 
various  parts  of  the  world  rejoice  in  its  approaching;  but 
its  course  is  planned  in  such  a  way  that  it  sometimes 
withdraws  from  those  regions  that  it  approaches  at  other 
times.  When  it  first  comes  to  visit  the  east  with  warmth 
and  bright  beams,  the  day  begins  to  lift  up  silvery  brows 
and  a  pleasant  face  to  the  east  wind.  Soon  the  east  wind 
is  crowned  with  a  golden  glory  and  robed  in  all  his  rai- 
ments of  joy.  He  eases  griefs  and  regretful  sighs  and 


turns  a  bright  countenance  toward  his  neighbors  on 
either  side,  bidding  them  rejoice  with  him  in  his  delight 
and  cast  away  their  winterlike  sorrows.  He  also  sends 
blazing  rays  into  the  face  of  the  west  wind  to  inform 
him  of  his  joy  and  happiness.  He  advises  the  west  wind, 
too,  that  in  the  evening  he  shall  be  clad  in  garments 
similar  to  those  which  the  east  wind  wore  in  the  morn- 
ing. Later  in  the  day  and  at  the  proper  hour  the  south- 
east wind  displays  the  glory  of  his  newly-gotten  robes 
and  sends  warming  rays  with  friendly  messages  into  the 
face  of  the  northwest  wind.  But  at  midday  the  south 
wind  reveals  how  he  has  been  endowed  with  riches  of 
heat,  sends  warm  gifts  of  friendship  across  to  the  north 
wind,  warms  his  cool  face,  and  invites  all  the  neighbor- 
ing winds  to  share  in  the  abundance  of  his  wealth.  As 
the  day  declines  the  southwest  wind  with  glad  face  re- 
ceives the  gentle  sheen  and  genial  beams.  Having  put 
away  wrath,  he  reveals  his  desire  for  peace  and  concord ; 
he  commands  the  mighty  billows  and  steep  wave-crests 
to  subside  with  waning  power  and  calls  forth  quickening 
dews  in  a  wish  to  be  fully  reconciled  with  all  his  neigh- 
bors. Gently  he  blows  a  refreshing  breath  into  the  face 
of  the  northeast  wind,  warms  his  wind-chilled  lips,  and 
thaws  his  frosty  brow  and  frozen  cheeks.  But  when  even- 
ing begins,  the  west  wind,  clad  in  splendor  and  sunset 
beauty  as  if  robed  for  a  festal  eve,  lifts  a  gleaming  brow 
above  a  blithe  countenance,  and  sends  a  message  on 
darting  beams  across  to  the  east  wind  telling  him  to 
prepare  for  the  festive  morrow  to  come. 

At  sunset  the  northwest  wind  begins  to  raise  his  fair 
brows  and  with  lifted  eyelids  betokens  to  all  his  neigh- 



bors  that  the  dazzling  radiance  is  now  in  his  keeping. 
Thereupon  he  sends  forth  a  shadow  over  the  face  of 
the  earth  proclaiming  to  all  that  now  come  the  hours 
of  rest  after  the  toil  of  day.  But  at  midnight  the  north 
wind  goes  forth  to  meet  the  coursing  sun  and  leads  him 
through  rocky  deserts  toward  the  sparse-built  shores. 
He  calls  forth  heavy  shadows,  covers  his  face  with  a 
broad-brimmed  helmet,  and  informs  all  that  he  is  ar- 
rayed for  the  night  watch  to  keep  guard  over  his  neigh- 
bors that  they  may  have  comfort  and  untroubled  rest 
after  the  heat  of  day.  With  cool  lips  he  gently  blows 
upon  the  face  of  the  south  wind,  that  he  may  be  better 
able  to  resist  the  violent  heat  of  the  coming  day.  He 
also  scatters  the  dark  clouds  and  clears  up  the  face  of 
heaven  in  order  that  the  sun,  when  light  appears,  may 
be  easily  able  to  send  forth  his  warm  and  radiant  beams 
in  all  directions.  But  on  the  coming  of  morn  the  north-  / 
east  wind  begins  to  open  his  closed  eyelids  and  blinks  ' 
to  both  sides  as  if  to  determine  whether  it  is  time  to  rise. 
Then  he  opens  quickly  his  clear  eyes  as  if  sated  with 
sleep  after  ended  rest.  Soon  he  leads  forth  the  gleaming  I 
day  into  all  the  homesteads  like  a  fair  youth  and  fitting 
herald,  to  give  sure  knowledge  that  the  radiant  sphere 
and  shining  sun  follows  close  behind  and  to  command 
all  to  be  arrayed  for  his  coming.  Soon  the  sun  rises  and 
shoots  forth  his  beams  in  all  directions  to  watch  over 
the  covenant  made  by  the  winds;  and  after  that  he  goes 
on  through  his  ordained  course  as  we  have  already  told.  J 
When  peace  has  been  established  among  (these  chief  s) 
that  we  have  just  named,  it  is  safe  to  travel  wherever 
you  may  wish  through  the  realms  of  any  one  of  them. 






Then  the  sea  begins  to  bar  out  all  violent  storms  and 
make  smooth  highways  where  earlier  the  route  was  im- 
passable because  of  broad  billows  and  mighty  waves; 
and  the  shores  offer  harbors  in  many  places  which  for- 
merly gave  no  shelter.  Now,  while  this  covenant  holds, 
there  will  be  fair  sailing  for  you  or  any  others  who  wish 
to  travel  to  foreign  shores  or  steer  their  ships  over  the 
perils  of  the  ocean.  It  is,  therefore,  the  duty  of  every  man, 
indeed  it  is  a  necessary  one,  to  learn  thoroughly  when 
one  may  look  for  dangerous  seasons  and  bad  routes,  or 
when  times  come  when  one  may  risk  everything.  For 
even  unwitting  beasts  observe  the  seasons,  though  by 
instinct,  since  they  have  no  intellect.  Even  the  fishes, 
though  lacking  human  insight,  know  how  to  find  secu- 
rity in  the  deep  seas,  while  the  winter  storms  are  most 
violent;  but  when  winter  wanes,  they  move  nearer  the 
shores  and  find  enjoyment  as  after  a  sorrow  suffered  and 
past.  Later  in  the  spring  after  the  roe  has  come,  they 
lay  the  spawn  and  bring  forth  a  vast  multitude  of  young 
fishes  and  in  this  way  increase  their  race,  each  after  its 
kind  and  class.  It  does,  indeed,  show  great  forethought 
for  unintelligent  creatures  to  provide  so  carefully  against 
the  coming  winter  storms,  and  to  bring  forth  their  off- 
spring at  the  opening  of  spring,  so  that  they  may  enjoy 
the  calm  weather  of  summer  and  search  for  food  in 
peace  and  quiet  along  the  wide  shores;  for  thus  they 
gather  strength  enough  in  summer  against  the  ensuing 
winter  to  sustain  themselves  among  other  fishes  in  the 
chilly  deep. 

The  covenant  brings  joy  to  the  sky  as  well  as  to  the 
sea;  for  as  spring  advances  the  birds  soaring  high  into 


the  air  rejoice  with  beautiful  songs  in  the  newly  made 
treaty  of  (these  lords]  as  in  a  coming  festival.  Their  joy 
is  as  great  as  if  they  have  escaped  great  and  terrible 
dangers  which  might  arise  from  the  strife  of  these  chief- 
tains. Soon  they  build  nests  upon  the  earth  and  lead 
birdlings  forth  from  them,  each  after  its  kind.  Thus  they 
increase  their  species  and  care  for  their  young  in  the 
summer  that  these  may  be  able  to  find  their  own  sus- 
tenance in  the  winter  following.  Even  the  earth  rejoices 
in  this  peace-making,  for  as  soon  as  the  sun  begins  to 
pour  out  its  warming  rays  over  the  face  of  the  earth, 
the  ice  begins  to  thaw  around  the  frozen  grass  roots; 
soon  fragrant  and  fair-hued  herbs  sprout  forth,  and  the 
earth  shows  that  she  finds  gladness  and  festive  joy  in 
the  fresh  beauty  of  her  emerald  robes.  She  gladly  offers 
to  all  her  offspring  the  sustenance  which  she  had  to  re- 
fuse them  earlier  because  of  the  dearth  in  winter.  The 
trees  that  stood  with  dripping  branches  and  frozen  roots 
put  forth  green  leaves,  thus  showing  their  joy  that  the 
sorrow  and  distress  of  winter  are  past. 

Unclean  and  repulsive  beasts  display  insight  and  un- 
derstanding in  their  ability  to  determine  the  proper 
time  to  increase  their  kind  and  to  come  out  of  their  dens. 
They  also  observe  the  season  when  it  is  necessary  to  flee 
the  cold  and  stormy  distress  of  winter  and  seek  shelter 
under  rocks,  in  large  crags,  or  in  the  deep  scar  of  the 
landslide  till  the  time  to  come  forth  is  at  hand.  Wild 
beasts  that  seek  their  food  in  woods  or  on  the  mountains 
know  well  how  to  discern  the  seasons;  for  they  bear  the 
begotten  offspring  while  winter  is  most  severe,  so  that 
they  may  bring  forth  their  young  when  the  grass  is 


fresh  and  the  summer  is  warm.  There  is  a  little  creeping 
thing  called  the  ant,  which  can  teach  thoughtful  men 
much  practical  wisdom,  whether  they  be  merchants  or 
husbandmen,  kings  or  lesser  men.  It  teaches  kings  how 
to  build  castles  and  fortresses;  in  the  same  way  it  teaches 
the  merchants  and  the  husbandmen  with  what  industry 
and  at  what  seasons  they  ought  to  pursue  their  callings; 
for  he  who  has  proper  insight  and  observes  carefully  the 
activities  of  the  ant  will  note  many  things  and  derive 
much  profit  from  them.  All  other  creatures,  too,  whether 
clean  or  unclean,  rejoice  in  this  season,  and  with  vigilant 
eyes  seek  their  food  in  the  warm  summer  time  so  as  to 
be  able  to  endure  more  confidently  the  perils  of  a  desti- 
f  tute  winter  season.  fNow  it  is  this  covenant  between 
\  these  eight  winds  that  calls  forth  all  the  delights  of 
I  earth  and  sky  and  the  calm  stirring  of  the  sea  accord- 
**  ing  to  the  commandjand  mysterious  skill  of  Him  Who 
ordained  in  the  beginning  that  thus  should  all  nature 
remain  until  He  should  change  the  order  of  things.  Now 
if  you  feel  that  some  of  these  matters  have  not  yet  been 
fully  cleared  up,  you  may  continue  your  inquiries  and 
ask  what  questions  you  like. 



Son.    It  was  a  wise  thought,  it  seems  to  me,  to  ask 
those  questions  to  which  I  have  just  received  such  fair 
replies;  and  I  am  encouraged  to  inquire  into  certain 
other  matters,  namely  the  waxing  of  thefsun,  the  moon,  1 
and  the  streams  or  tides  of  the  ocean,  —  how  much  and  / 
how  rapidly  these  things  wax  and  wane.  Now  these  \ 


things  that  I  have  brought  up  for  discussion  are  subjects  f  „.*..; 
which  especially  touch  the  welfare  of  (seafaring  menjand/  j 
it  looks  to  me  as  if  they  would  profit  much  from  a  knowl-  f 
edge  of  these  matters,  since  it  gives  insight  into  the  / 
right  conduct  of  their  profession.  And  since  I  intend  to  )  ' 
labor  diligently  in  the  trader's  callingJI  should  like  very/ 
much,  if  it  can  be  done,  to  have  you  explain  further  some 
of  those  things  that  I  have  just  mentioned. 

Father.  Those  things  that  you  have  now  asked  about 
do  not  all  wax  or  wane  with  equal  rapidity;  for  the  tide, 
when  it  rises,  completes  its  course  in_  seven  days  plus 
half  an  hour  of  the  eighth  day;  and  every  seventh  day 
there  is  flood  tide  in  place  of  ebb.  For  the  tide  rises  one 
seventh  part  daily  from  the  time  when  the  rise  begins; 
and  after  it  turns  and  begins  to  fall,  it  ebbs  in  the  same 
way  during  the  next  seven  days  but  is  retarded  as  much 
as  half  an  hour  of  the  eighth  day,*  which  must  be  added 
to  the  seven  days.  As  to  how  long  an  hour  should  be  I 
can  give  you  definite  information;  for  [there  should  be  7 
twenty-four  hours  in  two  days,  that  is,  a  night  and  a  V 
day,  while  the  sun  courses  through  the  eight  chief  points    [         ^y 
of  the  sky:  and  according  to  right  reckoning  the  sun  will     j 
pass  through  each  division  in  three  hours  of  the  dayJOn  / 
the  other  hand,  the  moon,  while  it  waxes,  completes  its 
course  in  fifteen  days  less  six  hours;  f  and  in  a  like  period 
it  wanes  until  the  course  is  complete  and  another  comes. 
And  it  is  always  true  that  at  this  time  the  flood  tide  is 
highest  and  the  ebb  strongest.  But  when  the  moon  has 
waxed  to  half,  the  flood  tide  is  lowest  and  the  ebb,  too, 

*  The  mean  retardation  is  forty-eight  minutes. 

f  This  is  within  twenty-two  minutes  of  the  length  of  the  lunar  half -month. 



is  quite  low.  At  full  moon  the  flood  tide  is  again  very 
high  and  the  ebb  is  strong.  But  when  it  has  waned  to 
half,  both  ebb  and  flood  are  quite  low.  Merchants  are, 
however,  scarcely  able  to  note  these  changes,  as  the 
course  is  too  swift;  for  the  moon  takes  such  long  strides 
both  in  waxing  and  waning  that  men,  on  that  account, 
find  it  difficult  to  determine  the  divisions  of  its  course. 
The  sun,  on  the  other  hand,  completes  its  course  more 
slowly  both  in  ascending  and  declining,  so  that  one 
'may  easily  mark  all  the  stages  of  its  course.  [The  sun 
I  moves  upward  one  hundred  and  eighty-two  and  one- 
half  days  and  three  hours  and  for  a  like  period  it  recedes 
again;  it  has  then  completed  its  entire  course,  both  as- 
cent and  decline,  in  three  hundred  days,  by  the  twelve- 
count  *  [360],  plus  five  days  and  six  hours.  Every  fourth 
year  this  becomes  three  hundred  by  the  twelve-count 
and  six  days  more[366];  this  is  called  leap  year,  for  it 
has  one  day  more  than  the  preceding  twelvemonth,  the 
additional  hours  being  gathered  into  twenty-four,  a 
night  and  a  day  Jin  Latin  all  hundreds  are  counted  by 
tens,  and  there  are,  therefore,  properly  computed  three 
hundred  by  the  ten-count  plus  sixty-six  days  whenever 
leap  year  occurs,  while  the  intervening  years  have  only 
five  days  and  six  hours  with  as  many  additional  days  by 
the  other  reckoning  as  I  have  just  stated. 

But  to  your  question  concerning  the  growth  of  the 
sun's  path,  how  one  can  most  clearly  discern  it,  I  can 
scarcely  give  an  answer  so  precise  as  not  to  be  wrong 
in  part;  for  the  sun's  path  does  not  wax  at  the  same 

*  The  Northmen  in  medieval  times  had  two  hundreds,  the  great  hundred,  or 
duodecimal  hundred,  which  counted  120  (12  X  10)  and  the  ordinary  hundred 
(10  X  10). 


rate  in  all  parts  of  the  earth.  I  can,  of  course,  answer 
according  to  what  I  have  found  in  the  writings  of  men 
who  have  treated  the  subject  thoroughly,  and  it  is 
generally  believed  that  their  words  come  very  near  the 
truth.  I  have  already  told  you  how  many  hours  there 
are  in  a  night  and  day  and  gave  the  number  as  twenty- 
four.  *  I  have  indicated  the  length  of  each  hour  in  stat- 
ing that  three  hours  pass  while  the  sun  moves  across 
one  division  of  the  sky.  Now  there  are  some  other  little 
hours  called  ostensa^  sixty  of  which  make  one  of  those 
that  I  mentioned  earlier.  It  seems  to  me  quite  likely 
that,  as  far  north  as  we  are,  the  sun's  path  waxes  five 
of  these  little  hours  in  a  day  and  as  much  less  than  six 
as  a  twelfth  part  of  a  little  hour.  And  as  to  the  growth 
of  the  sun's  path  it  seems  most  reasonable  to  me  that 
it  waxes  three-fourths  of  these  hours  toward  the  east 
and  the  west  and  the  remaining  fourth  in  height  toward 
the  zenith.  South  of  us,  however,  this  reckoning  will 
fail;  for  north  of  us  the  increase  is  greater  and  to  the 
south  less  than  we  have  just  stated;  and  the  farther 
south,  the  greater  is  the  difference,  and  the  sun  more 
nearly  overhead. 



Son.  With  your  permission  I  wish  to  inquire  some- 
what more  fully  into  this  subject,  for  I  do  not  quite  un- 
derstand it.  You  have  said  that  the  sun's  ascent  is  more 
rapid  to  the  north  of  us,  where  summer  is  almost  want- 

*  See  Brenner's  edition,  20. 

t  Error  for  oslenta;  the  ostenium,  computed  at  one-sixtieth  of  an  hour,  seems 

to  appear  first  in  the  writings  of  Rabanus  Maurus  (ninth  century). 


ing,  while  the  strength  of  winter  is  so  overpowering  that 
summer  seems  like  a  mere  shadow,  and  where  in  many 
places  both  snow  and  ice  lie  all  through  summer  just  as 
in  winter,  as  is  true  of  Iceland  and  particularly  of  Green- 
land. But  I  have  heard  that  in  the  southlands  there  are 
no  severe  winters,  the  sun  being  as  hot  in  winter  as  it  is 
with  us  in  summer;  and  that  in  winter,  when  the  sun 
has  less  power,  both  grain  and  other  crops  grow,  while 
in  summer  the  earth  cannot  endure  the  fervent  heat  of 
the  sun  and  consequently  yields  neither  grass  nor  grain; 
so  that  in  regions  like  Apulia  and  even  more  so  in  the 
land  of  Jerusalem  the  heat  of  summer  causes  as  great 
distress  as  the  cold  of  winter  with  us.  Now  when  you 
tell  me  that  the  sun's  path  waxes  faster  here  in  the  north 
than  yonder  in  the  south,  I  cannot  see  the  reason  why; 
for  there  the  sun's  heat  is  as  great  in  winter  as  it  is  with 
us  in  summer;  and  it  is  so  much  greater  in  summer  that 
all  vegetation  on  the  earth  is  scorched  by  it.  Therefore 
it  seems  to  me  more  likely  that  the  sun's  path  waxes 
most  rapidly  where  the  heat  is  most  intense.  Now  if 
you  can  and  will  clear  this  up  for  me  so  that  I  can 
grasp  it,  I  shall  listen  gladly  and  attentively. 

Father.  I  shall  begin  my  talk  on  the  subject  that  I  am 
now  to  take  up  with  a  little  illustration,  which  may  help 
you  to  a  clearer  insight,  since  you  find  it  so  difficult  to 
believe  the  facts  as  stated.  If  you  take  a  lighted  candle 
and  set  it  in  a  room,  you  may  expect  it  to  light  up  the 
entire  interior,  unless  something  should  hinder,  though 
the  room  be  quite  large.  But  if  you  take  an  apple  and 
hang  it  close  to  the  flame,  so  near  that  it  is  heated,  the 
apple  will  darken  nearly  half  the  room  or  even  more. 


However,  if  you  hang  the  apple  near  the  wall,  it  will  not 
get  hot;  the  candle  will  light  up  the  whole  house;  and 
the  shadow  on  the  wall  where  the  apple  hangs  will  be 
scarcely  half  as  large  as  the  apple  itself.  FrpnaJjiis  you  7 
may  inferjjiat  rthe  earth-circlejs_round  like-_a-Jball  and  V 
not  equajlyjaear  the  sun  ^  every  point.  But  where  the^ 
curved  surface  lies  nearest  the  sun's  path,  there  will  the 
greatest  heat  be;  and  some  of  the  lands  that  lie  contin- 
uously under  the  unbroken  rays  cannot  be  inhabited. 
On  the  other  hand,  those  lands  which  the  sun  approaches 
with  slanting  rays  may  readily  be  occupied;  and  yet, 
some  of  these  are  hotter  than  others  according  as  they 
lie  nearer  the  sun's  path.  But  when  the  curved  and  steep 
slope  of  the  sphere-shaped  wheel  moves  up  before  the 
light  and  the  beams  of  the  sun,  it  will  cast  the  deepest 
shadow  where  its  curved  surface  lies  nearest  the  sun; 
and  yet,  the  lands  nearest  the  sun  are  always  hottest.* 
Now  I  agree  with  you  that  Apulia  and  Jerusalem  are 
hotter  than  our  own  country;  but  you  must  know  that 
there  are  places  where  the  heat  is  greater  than  in  either 
of  those  just  mentioned,  for  some  countries  are  unin- 
habitable on  account  of  the  heat.  And  I  have  heard  it 
stated  as  a  fact,  that  even  when  the  sun  mounts  highest, 
the  night  in  those  regions  is  very  dark  and  quite  long. 
From  this  you  must  conclude  that  where  the  strength 
and  power  of  the  sun  are  greater,  since  it  is  nearer,  it 
must  ascend  and  decline  more  slowly;  for  the  night  is 
long  in  summer  when  the  sun  mounts  highest,  and 
the  day  is  long  in  winter  when  it  sinks  lowest.  Now  I 

*  It  is  evident  from  this  discussion  that  the  author  believes  in  a  spherical 
earth;  elsewhere,  too,  he  speaks  of  the  sphere  of  earth  (jarftarbollr);  see  c.  Ivi. 


shall  explain  this  so  clearly  that  you  will  understand  it 

You  know  that  here  with  us  in  winter  the  day  and  the 
course  of  the  sun  are  brief;  for  so  short  is  the  sun's  path 
that  it  passes  through  but  a  single  region  of  the  sky,  and 
then  only  where  the  sun  has  considerable  strength.  But 
in  many  places  the  sun  is  not  to  be  seen  during  a  large 
part  of  winter,  for  example  in  Halogaland,*  as  we 
have  not  only  heard  tell  but  have  often  and  constantly 
learned  and  observed  with  our  own  eyes.  For  we  know 
definitely  that  from  about  November  10  to  January  10 
there  never  comes  a  day  so  bright  up  north  in  Vaag  or 
at  Andenes  |  in  Halogaland  but  that  the  stars  in  the 
sky  are  visible  at  midday  as  at  midnight.  And  although 
the  days  have  so  much  light  that  the  stars  cannot  be 
seen,  nevertheless,  in  most  of  the  places  that  we  have 
mentioned  the  sun  remains  invisible  till  January  23. 
But  after  that  date  the  days  lengthen  and  the  sun 
mounts  so  rapidly,  that  beginning  with  April  6  day- 
light does  not  disappear  before  September  17,  all  the  in- 
tervening time  being  one  continuous  day,  for  daylight 
never  fails  in  all  that  while.  From  this  you  may  safely 
conclude  that,  though  the  sun  is  hotter  in  the  southern 
lands  that  we  spoke  of  earlier,  its  course  waxes  and 
mounts  more  slowly  where  the  night,  even  at  mid-sum- 
mer, is  deep  and  long  and  dark,  and  where  tnere  is  never 
a  time  in  the  whole  twelvemonth  when  day  does  not  fail. 
But  in  Halogaland,  as  I  have  just  said,  there  is  no  day 

*  Halogaland,  the  modern  Nordland,  is  that  part  of  Norway  lying  north  of 
the  sixty-fifth  parallel. 

t  Vaag  and  Andenes  are  points  in  the  Lofoten  Islands;  their  latitudes  are  68° 
12'  35"  and  69°  18'  50"  respectively. 


in  winter  and  stars  are  visible  at  midday  when  the  day 
should  be  brightest;  later,  however,  when  the  days  be- 
gin to  lengthen,  they  grow  so  rapidly  that  early  in  spring 
daylight  begins  to  tarry  all  the  night  and  continues 
till  much  of  the  autumn  is  past. 

There  remains  one  more  proof  which  will  seem  very 
clear  to  you.  You  know  that  in  those  localities  in  Haloga- 
land  that  we  have  just  mentioned  the  sun  about  May  15 
begins  to  shine  with  the  same  brightness  by  night  as 
by  day,  never  setting  either  at  night  or  during  the  day 
but  shining  continuously  in  this  manner  and  with  this 
brightness,  except  when  its  light  is  obscured  by  clouds, 
even  to  July  25.  Now  you  know  that  the  sun  is  only 
moderately  warm  in  Halogaland,  and  that  there  is  but 
a  little  time  in  summer  when  it  gives  sufficient  warmth. 
Still,  there  it  is  with  its  blazing  disk  about  as  long  as  we 
have  just  stated,  and  it  maintains  the  daylight  about  as 
long  as  we  have  just  computed.  But  neither  fact  is  true 
of  the  southlands,  though  the  sun  is  hotter  there.  Now 
these  facts  give  evidence  that  the  sun  is  more  distant 
here,  for  it  gives  less  heat.  They  also  testify  to  the  wax- 
ing of  its  course,  for,  since  its  light  is  as  bright  by  night 
as  by  day,  its  path  must  lengthen  more  rapidly  here. 
But  yonder  it  waxes  less  and  more  slowly,  for  there  the 
night  has  its  prescribed  period  both  for  length  and  dark- 
ness in  summer  as  well  as  in  winter. 



Son.  I  see  this  so  clearly  now  that  I  can  no  longer 
gainsay  that  the  sun  mounts  higher  and  more  rapidly 
up  the  sky  where  there  is  almost  no  day  in  winter  and 


the  sunlight  is  so  abundant  in  summer  that  it  shines  by 
night  as  well  as  by  day  throughout  almost  the  entire 
season.  I  also  see  that  its  course  changes  much  less  yon- 
der where  it  rises  high  in  winter  and  gives  long  days  with 
inuch  heat  and  sunshine,  though  the  night  in  summer  is 
long  and  dark.  (Seafaring  traders  ought  to  note  the  dif- 
ferences precisely  so  as  to  be  able  to  determine  what 
seas  they  are  upon,  whether  they  lie  to  the  north  or  to 
the  southjAnd  it  seems  unnecessary  to  inquire  any  fur- 
ther into  these  matters,  for  I  believe  that  I  have  had 
correct  and  sufficient  answers.  Now  since  we  are  wearied 
with  profound  questions  and  thoughtful  discourse,  let  us 
rest  from  these  for  a  while  and  turn  our  conversation  to 
matters  of  a  lighter  sort.  And  even  though  I  should  in- 
quire about  things  that  are  not  so  useful  as  those  others, 
which  are  of  the  highest  utility,  I  pray  you  for  the  sake 
of  our  intimacy  to  vouchsafe  replies  to  such  questions 
as  I  may  ask;  for  my  mind  is  often  as  eager  for  amuse- 
ment as  for  things  of  useful  intent.  And  it  may  seem 
restful  in  a  long  talk,  if  a  few  questions  come  up  that 
can  stir  the  mind  to  gentle  mirth.  I  do  not  wish,  how- 
ever, to  bring  such  themes  into  our  talk  unless  you  give 
me  permission. 

Father.  I  take  it  that  you  will  ask  no  stupid  questions, 
seeing  that  you  have  thus  far  inquired  into  such  matters 
only  as  seem  very  pertinent;  and  you  are  therefore  free 
to  ask  whatever  you  wish;  for  if  the  questions  do  not 
seem  appropriate,  we  are  at  liberty  to  drop  them  as  soon 
as  we  like. 

Son.  Now  that  I  am  permitted  to  choose  a  topic  for 
entertainment,  it  occurs  to  me  that  I  have  asked  too 


little  abou\  Ireland,  Iceland,  and  Greenland  Jand  all  the  > 
wonders  of  those  lands,  such  as  fire  and  strange  bodies 
of  water,  or  the  various  kinds  of  fish  and  the  monsters 
that  dash  about  in  the  ocean,  or  the  boundless  ice  both 
in  the  sea  and  on  the  land,  or  what  the  Greenlanders 
call  the  "  northern  lights,"  or  the  "  sea-hedges  "  that 
are  found  in  the  waters  of  Greenland. 

Father.  I  am  not  much  disposed  to  discuss  the  won- 
ders that  exist  among  us  here  in  the  North,  though  my 
reason  may  be  rather  trivial :  many  a  man  is  inclined  to 
be  suspicious  and  think  everything  fiction  that  he  has 
not  seen  with  his  own  eyes;  and  therefore  I  do  not  like 
to  discuss  such  topics,  if  my  statements  are  to  be  called 
fabrications  later  on,  even  though  I  know  them  to  be 
true  beyond  doubt,  inasmuch  as  I  have  seen  some  of 
these  things  with  mine  own  eyes  and  have  had  daily 
opportunity  to  inquire  about  the  others  from  men  whom 
we  know  to  be  trustworthy  and  who  have  actually  seen 
and  examined  them,  and  therefore  know  them  to  be 
genuine  beyond  question.  My  reason  for  bringing  up 
this  objection  is  that  a  little  book  has  recently  come  into 
our  country,  which  is  said  to  have  been  written  in  India 
and  recounts  the  wonders  of  that  country.  The  book 
states  that  it  was  sent  to  Emmanuel,  emperor  of  the 
Greeks.*  Now  it  is  the  belief  of  most  men  who  have 

*  Manuel  I,  Comnenus,  1143-1180.  The  "  little  book  "  is  thought  to  have 
been  one  of  the  many  forms  of  the  legend  of  Prester  John,  a  fabulous  Chris- 
tian ruler  of  India  of  whom  much  was  heard  in  the  middle  ages.  About  1165 
a  letter  from  the  "  Presbyter  Johannes  "  addressed  to  the  emperor  Manuel 
Comnenus  was  circulated  through  Europe  and  later  found  its  way  into  the 
North.  In  the  extant  copies  of  this  letter  many  marvels  are  told,  though  the 
wonder  mentioned  in  the  Speculum  Regale  does  not  appear.  See  Zarncke,  Der 
Priester  Johannes,  83-98. 


heard  the  book  read,  that  such  wonders  are  impossible, 
and  that  what  is  told  in  the  book  is  mere  falsehood.  But 
if  our  own  country  were  carefully  searched,  there  would 
be  found  no  fewer  things  here  than  are  numbered  in 
that  book  which  would  seem  as  wonderful,  or  even  more 
so,  to  men  of  other  lands  who  have  not  seen  or  heard 
anything  like  them.  Now  we  call  those  things  fiction 
because  we  had  not  seen  them  here  or  heard  of  them 
before  the  coming  of  that  book  which  I  have  just  men- 
tioned. That  little  book  has,  however,  been  widely  circu- 
lated, though  it  has  always  been  questioned  and  charged 
with  falsehood;  and  it  seems  to  me  that  no  one  has  de- 
rived honor  from  it,  neither  those  who  have  doubted  it 
nor  the  one  who  wrote  it,  even  though  his  work  has  been 
widely  distributed  and  has  served  to  amuse  and  tickle 
the  ear,  seeing  that  what  is  written  in  it  has  always  been 
called  fiction. 



Son.  Of  course  I  cannot  know  how  widely  our  talks 
will  travel  either  in  our  days  or  later;  and  yet,  with  your 
permission,  I  will  again  ask  the  pleasure  of  hearing  fur- 
ther speech  concerning  those  matters  that  we  might 
think  strange  in  other  lands,  but  which  we  know  are 
surely  genuine.  And  we  need  not  be  so  very  skeptical 
of  this  book  which  is  said  to  have  been  written  in  India, 
though  many  marvels  are  told  in  it;  for  there  are  many 
things  in  our  own  country,  which,  though  not  strange  to 
us,  would  seem  wonderful  to  other  people,  if  our  words 
should  fly  so  far  as  to  come  thither  where  such  things 


are  unheard  of.  But  if  I  should  express  surprise  at  any 
of  those  tales  that  are  told  in  that  book,  it  seems  to  me 
not  least  wonderful  that  manikins  are  able  to  subdue 
those  great  winged  dragons  which  infest  the  mountains 
and  desert  places  there,  as  the  book  tells  us,  and  tame 
them  so  completely  that  men  are  able  to  ride  them  just  as 
they  please  like  horses,  fierce  and  venomous  beasts  though 
they  are  said  to  be  and  not  inclined  to  allow  men  in  their 
neighborhood,  still  less  to  be  tamed  and  to  do  service. 

Father.  Both  such  and  many  other  tales  are  told  in 
that  book  which  seem  so  marvelous  that  many  express 
their  doubts  about  them;  but  it  seems  to  me  that  there 
is  no  need  to  compare  the  wonders  that  are  described 
there  with  those  that  we  have  in  our  own  country,  which 
would  seem  as  strange  to  men  yonder  as  those  that  you 
have  just  mentioned  seem  to  us.  For  it  must  be  possible 
to  tame  wild  beasts  and  other  animals,  though  they  be 
fierce  and  difficult  to  manage.  But  it  would  seem  a 
greater  marvel  to  hear  about  men  who  are  able  to  tame 
trees  and  boards,  so  that  by  fastening  boards  seven  or 
eight  ells  long  under  his  feet,  a  man,  who  is  no  fleeter 
than  other  men  when  he  is  barefooted  or  shod  merely 
with  shoes,  is  made  able  to  pass  the  bird  on  the  wing, 
or  the  fleetest  greyhound  that  runs  in  the  race,  or  the 
reindeer  which  leaps  twice  as  fast  as  the  hart.  For  there 
is  a  large  number  of  men  who  run  so  well  on  skis  that 
they  can  strike  down  nine  reindeer  with  a  spear,  or  even 
more,  in  a  single  run.  Now  such  things  must  seem  incred- 
ible, unlikely,  and  marvelous  in  all  those  lands  where 
men  do  not  know  with  what  skill  and  cleverness  it  is 
possible  to  train  the  board  to  such  great  fleetness  that 


on  the  mountain  side  nothing  of  all  that  walks  the  earth 
can  escape  the  swift  movements  of  the  man  who  is  shod 
with  such  boards.  But  as  soon  as  he  removes  the  boards 
from  his  feet,  he  is  no  more  agile  than  any  other  man. 
In  other  places,  where  men  are  not  trained  to  such  arts, 
it  would  be  difficult  to  find  a  man,  no  matter  how  swift, 
who  would  not  lose  all  his  fleetness  if  such  pieces  of  wood 
as  we  have  talked  about  were  bound  to  his  feet.  We, 
however,  have  sure  information  and,  when  snow  lies  in 
winter,  have  opportunity  to  see  men  in  plenty  who  are 
expert  in  this  art. 

Not  long  since,  we  mentioned  a  certain  fact  which 
must  be  thought  exceedingly  strange  elsewhere,  as  it 
runs  wholly  counter  to  the  order  which  holds  good  in 
most  places  with  respect  to  the  change  from  night  to 
day,  namely,  that  here  the  sun  shines  as  bright  and  fair 
and  with  as  much  warmth  by  night  as  by  day  through 
a  large  part  of  the  summer. 

In  our  own  country,  in  More,  there  is  a  bog  called  the 
Bjarkudal  bog,  which  must  also  seem  wonderful:  for 
every  sort  of  wood  that  is  thrown  into  it  and  left  there 
three  winters  loses  its  nature  as  wood  and  turns  into 
stone.*  If  it  is  thrown  upon  the  fire,  it  will  glow  like 
stone,  though  before  it  would  have  burned  like  wood. 
I  have  seen  and  handled  many  such  stones  of  which  the 
half  that  rose  above  the  mire  was  wooden,  while  the 
part  submerged  in  the  bog  was  wholly  petrified.  Now 
we  must  call  that  a  marvel,  for  the  bog  is  located  in  a 

*  The  "  Birchdale  "  bog  seems  to  be  a  myth;  but  that  stories  of  such  a  marvel 
were  current  is  evident  from  a  statement  by  Giraldus  Cambrensis,  who  has 
heard  that  there  was  such  a  bog  in  Norway.  Opera,  V,  86.  More  is  an  old 
Norwegian  shire  lying  to  the  west  of  Trondhjem  along  the  coast. 


forest  which  is  heavily  wooded  with  young  trees  of  all 
sorts;  and  these  are  not  injured  so  long  as  they  are  green 
and  growing,  but  as  soon  as  one  is  hewn  down  and,  hav- 
ing begun  to  decay,  is  thrown  into  the  bog,  it  turns  into 
stone.  ^  ^i  a  f^/Lj  A^vwfc^W 



Son.  I  am  familiar  with  all  these  things  since  they 
are  found  in  our  own  country,  and  I  have  seen  them  all. 
But  I  have  no  knowledge  of  all  those  other  marvels 
which  are  to  be  found  in  Iceland,  Greenland,  and  Ire- 
land, and  in  the  seas  about  those  lands,  for  of  those 
things  I  have  heard  rumors  only. 

Father.  Those  lands,  if  we  are  to  speak  more  fully 
about  them,  differ  much  in  character  and  are  not  all  of 
the  same  appearance.  For  the  wonders  of  Iceland  and 
Greenland  consist  in  great  frost  and  boundless  ice,  or 
in  unusual  display  of  flame  and  fire,  or  in  large  fishes 
and  other  sea  monsters.  And  these  countries  are  every- 
where barren  and  unfruitful  and  consequently  almost 
unfit  for  habitation  /But  Ireland  comes  near  being  the  > 
best  land  that  is  known  to  man,  though  the  grape  vine  V  f 

~i  \        '*«-X^^ 

does  not  grow  there.'lyAnd  there  are  many  marvels  in^ 


(Jreland,  some  of  which  are  of  such  a  character  that  this 

country  may  be  called  holier  than  all  others.  7 

The  country  lies  on  that  side  of  the  world  where  heat 
and  cold  are  so  well  tempered  that  the  weather  is  never 
very  hot  or  very  cold.  For  all  through  the  winter  the 
cattle  find  their  feed  in  the  open,  and  the  inhabitants 

*  Cf.  Giraldus  Cambrensis,  Opera,  V,  26-28.  Giraldus  quotes  Bede  (Historia 
Ecclesiastica,  i,  c.  1).  See  also  Isidore,  Etymologiae,  xiv,  6. 


wear  almost  no  clothes  there  either  in  winter  or  in  sum- 
mer. And  so  holy  is  this  land  beyond  all  others  that  no 
venomous  animal  can  exist  there,  either  snake  or  toad.* 
When  such  animals  are  brought  in  from  other  countries, 
they  die  as  soon  as  they  touch  the  bare  earth  or  rock.f 
And  if  wood,  earth,  or  sand  is  taken  from  that  country 
and  brought  to  a  land  where  venomous  beasts  are  found, 
and  the  sand  or  earth  is  strewn  around  them  where  they 
lie,  they  will  never  be  able  to  cross  the  circle  but  must 
remain  within  it  and  perish.  In  the  same  way,  if  you 
take  a  stick  of  wood  which  has  come  from  the  country 
of  which  we  now  speak  and  trace  a  circle  around  them 
with  it  by  scratching  the  soil  with  the  stick,  they  will 
soon  all  lie  dead  within  the  circle.  It  is  told  of  Ireland 
that  men  scarcely  know  of  another  island  of  equal  size 
where  there  are  so  many  holy  men.  We  are  also  told  that 

/the  inhabitants  of  the  country  are  by  nature  fierce  and 
murderous  and  very  immoral.  But  bloodthirsty  though 

'they  be,  they  have  never  slain  any  of  the  saints  who  are 
so  numerous  in  the  land;  the  holy  men  who  have  dwelt 
there  have  all  died  in  sick  bed.  For  the  Irish  have  been 
kindly  disposed  toward  all  good  and  holy  men,  though 
they  have  dealt  savagely  with  each  other. J 

There  is  a  lake  in  that  country  concerning  the  nature 
of  which  strange  tales  are  told;  it  is  called  Logechag  § 

*  Cf.  Giraldus,  Opera,  V,  62;  see  also  Bede,  Hist.  Eccles.,  i,  c.  1. 
f  "Wonders  of  Ireland"  (Irish  Nennius,  219);  this  writer  states  that  the  ex- 
periment has  been  made. 

t  Giraldus  tells  us  that  the  Irish  are  faithless  and  treacherous  (Opera,  V,  165) 
but  that  the  island  has  no  martyrs  (ibid.,  174).  Cf.  firiu,  IV,  4  (Meyer,  "Irish 
Memorabilia  in  the  Speculum  Regale  "). 

§  The  editor  of  the  Irish  Nennius  gives  this  name  as  Loch  n-Echach  (Lough 
Neagh).  P.  195,  note. 


in  the  native  speech.  It  is  quite  an  extensive  lake  and 
has  this  property,  that  if  you  take  a  stick  of  the  wood 
that  some  call  holm  and  others  holly  but  is  called  acri- 
folium  *  in  Latin  and  fix  it  in  the  lake  so  that  part  of  it 
is  in  the  earth,  a  part  in  the  water,  and  a  part  rising 
above,  the  part  in  the  earth  will  turn  into  iron,  the  part 
in  the  water  into  stone,  while  that  which  stands  out 
above  will  remain  as  before.  But  if  you  set  any  other 
sort  of  wood  in  the  lake,  its  nature  will  not  change.f 

Again,  there  are  two  springs  on  a  mountain  called 
Blandina,{  which  is  almost  a  desert  mountain;  these 
have  a  peculiar  nature.  One  of  them  has  this  property 
that  if  you  take  either  a  white  sheep,  cow,  or  horse,  or 
a  man  with  white  hair,  and  wash  any  one  of  these  with 
the  water,  the  white  will  immediately  turn  to  coal  black. 
And  such  is  the  nature  of  the  other  spring  in  that  place 
that  if  a  man  washes  himself  in  its  water,  his  hair  will 
turn  to  a  snowy  white  as  if  he  were  an  aged  man,  no 
matter  what  its  color  be  before,  whether  red  or  white  or 
black.  § 

There  is  also  a  lake  in  that  country  which  the  natives 
call  Loycha.  In  that  lake  there  is  what  appears  to  be  a 
little  floating  island;  for  it  floats  about  in  the  lake,  here 

*  Error  for  aquifolium. 

f  See  the  "  Wonders  of  Ireland  "  (Irish  Nennius,  195)  where  a  similar  ac- 
count is  given;  but  according  to  this  "  the  part  of  it  that  sinks  into  the  earth 
will  be  stone,  the  part  that  remains  in  the  water  will  be  iron."  Giraldus  writes 
of  a  petrifying  well  (fons)  in  the  north  of  Ulster,  but  gives  no  place  name. 
Opera,  V,  86.  See  also  Wright-Halliwell,  Reliquiae  Antiquae,  II,  103.  (Latin 
poem  on  the  wonders  of  Ireland.) 

J  Blandina  (Bladina,  Bladma)  is  the  Slieve-Bloom  range  in  central  Ireland. 
§  Giraldus  has  heard  of  such  springs,  but  he  locates  the  one  in  Ulster  and  the 
other  in  Munster.  Opera,  V,  84.  A  spring  that  whitens  hair  is  mentioned  in 
Wright-Halliwell,  Reliquiae  Antiquae,  II,  104,  and  in  the  Irish  Nennius,  195. 


and  there  approaching  the  shore  sometimes  so  near  that 
one  may  step  out  upon  it;  and  this  occurs  most  fre- 
quently on  Sundays.  And  such  is  the  property  of  this 
islet  that  if  one  who  is  ill  steps  out  upon  it  and  partakes 
of  the  herbs  that  grow  there,  he  is  healed  at  once,  no 
matter  what  his  ailment  may  be.  Another  singular  fact 
is  this,  that  never  more  than  one  can  come  upon  it  at 
one  time,  though  many  may  wish  to  do  so;  for  as  soon 
as  one  has  landed,  the  island  immediately  floats  away. 
It  also  has  this  peculiarity  that  it  floats  constantly  about 
in  the  lake  for  seven  winters;  but  as  soon  as  the  seventh 
winter  is  past,  it  floats  to  the  shore  somewhere  and 
unites  with  the  other  land,  as  if  it  had  always  been 
joined  to  it.  But  when  that  moment  has  come,  a  crash 
like  a  peal  of  thunder  is  heard,  and,  when  the  din  is  past, 
another  island  can  be  seen  in  the  lake  of  the  same  size 
and  character  as  the  earlier  one.  Thus  it  happens  regu- 
larly every  seventh  year  that,  as  soon  as  the  one  island 
has  joined  the  mainland,  another  appears,  though  no 
one  knows  whence  it  comes.* 

There  is  another  little  island  in  that  country,  which 
the  natives  call  Inhisgluer.f  There  is  a  large  village  on 
this  island  and  also  a  church;  for  the  population  is  about 
large  enough  for  a  parish.  But  when  people  die  there, 
they  are  not  buried  in  the  earth  but  are  set  up  around 
the  church  along  the  churchyard  fence,  and  there  they 

*  See  £riu,  IV,  6.  Kuno  Meyer  knows  of  no  such  story  in  Irish  folklore,  but 
refers  to  similar  tales  told  of  floating  islands  in  Wales  and  Scotland, 
f  Inhisgluair,  now  Inishglory,  is  on  the  west  coast  of  Ireland  in  county  Mayo. 
Giraldus  mentions  the  legend  but  assigns  it  to  a  different  locality;  see  Opera, 
V,  83  and  note.  The  Irish  Nennius  (193)  adds  that  the  nails  and  hair  grow 
and  that  unsalted  meat  does  not  decay  on  the  island.  The  island  is  also  re- 
ferred to  in  the  Reliquiae  Antiquae,  II,  103. 


stand  like  living  men  with  their  limbs  all  shriveled  but 
their  hair  and  nails  unmarred.  They  never  decay  and 
birds  never  light  on  them.  And  every  one  who  is  living 
is  able  to  recognize  his  father  or  grandfather  and  all  the 
successive  ancestors  from  whom  he  has  descended. 

There  is  still  another  quite  extensive  lake  that  is 
called  Logri.*  In  that  lake  is  an  islet  inhabited  by  men 
who  live  a  celibate  life  and  may  be  called,  as  one  likes, 
either  monks  or  hermits;  they  live  there  in  such  num- 
bers that  they  fill  the  island,  though  at  times  they  are 
fewer.  It  is  said  concerning  this  isle  that  it  is  healthful 
and  quite  free  from  diseases,  so  that  people  grow  aged 
more  slowly  there  than  elsewhere  in  the  land.  But  when 
one  does  grow  very  old  and  sickly  and  can  see  the  end 
of  the  days  allotted  by  the  Lord,  he  has  to  be  carried  to 
some  place  on  the  mainland  to  die;  for  no  one  can  die  of 
disease  on  the  island.  One  may  sicken  and  suffer  there, 
but  his  spirit  cannot  depart  from  the  body  before  he  has 
been  removed  from  the  island. 

There  is  another  large  lake  which  the  natives  call  Log- 
herne.f  In  this  lake  there  is  a  great  abundance  of  fish  of 
the  sort  that  we  call  salmon;  and  the  fish  is  sent  into  all 
the  country  about  in  such  quantities  that  all  have  plenty 
for  table  use.  In  this  lake  there  are  also  many  islands, 
one  of  which  is  called  Kertinagh  by  the  natives.  This 

*  Giraldus  refers  briefly  to  this  legend.  Opera,  V,  81.  The  editor  of  Giraldus' 
writings  adds  in  a  note  (ibid.):  "  the  isle  of  the  living  was  three  miles  from 
Roscrea,  parish  of  Cobally,  in  a  lake  called  Loch  Cre,  now  dried  up."  Roscrea 
is  near  the  north  edge  of  Munster  not  far  from  the  Slieve  Bloom  mountains. 
See  also  the  Irish  Nennius,  217.  Meyer  identifies  Logri  with  Loch  Ree  in  west 
central  Ireland.  £riu,  IV,  7. 

t  Probably  Lough  Erne,  though  Loch  Uair,  now  Lough  Owel,  in  Westmeath 
has  also  been  suggested. 


island  might  very  well  be  inhabited,  as  far  as  size  is 
concerned,  if  men  dared  occupy  it.  But  it  is  reported 
about  this  island  that  the  powers  of  evil  have  as  great 
authority  over  one-half  of  it  as  they  have  in  hell  itself. 
Venturesome  men  who  have  tried  to  settle  there  have 
said  that  they  suffered  as  great  trouble  and  torment  as 
souls  are  believed  to  suffer  in  hell.  But  on  the  other 
half  of  the  island  there  is  a  church  with  a  churchyard 
about  it.  Both  halves  are  now  deserted,  however,  though 
we  are  told  that  over  the  half  where  the  church  is  the 
demons  have  no  power.* 

It  once  happened  in  that  country  (and  this  seems  in- 
deed strange)  that  a  living  creature  was  caught  in  the 
forest  as  to  which  no  one  could  say  definitely  whether  it 
was  a  man  or  some  other  animal;  for  no  one  could  get 
a  word  from  it  or  be  sure  that  it  understood  human 
speech.  It  had  the  human  shape,  however,  in  every  de- 
tail, both  as  to  hands  and  face  and  feet;  but  the  entire 
body  was  covered  with  hair  as  the  beasts  are,  and  down 
the  back  it  had  a  long  coarse  mane  like  that  of  a  horse, 
which  fell  to  both  sides  and  trailed  along  the  ground 
when  the  creature  stooped  in  walking.  I  believe  I  have 
now  recounted  most  of  the  marvels  that  have  their  ori- 
gin in  the  nature  of  the  land  itself,  so  far  as  we  seem  to 
have  sure  knowledge  concerning  them. 

*  Giraldus  calls  this  island  the  Purgatory  of  Saint  Patrick;  but  this  famous 
place  was  "  on  an  island  in  Lough  Derg,  in  county  Donegal."  Opera,  V,  82-83 
and  note.  It  seems  likely,  however,  that  two  different  legends  have  been  con- 
fused in  the  Welshman's  account. 




Son.  I  consider  it  fortunate  that  I  had  some  curiosity^  »  \^ 

to  know  about  these  matters,  for  there  are  no  doubt  J  AJ(P 
many  so  ill-informed  that  they  have  never  heard  about  j 
such  things.  Most  men  who  may  hear  these  accounts  / 
are  likely  to  find  them  marvelous,  though  also  somewhat  / 
informing.  But  since  I  gather  from  your  remarks  that 
there  may  be  certain  other  things  that  are  wonderful 
and  seem  worth  discussing,  either  native  to  the  land 
or  having  some  other  origin,  I  wish  to  request  that 
nothing  be  omitted  which  you  consider  worth  men-     / 
tioning,  now  that  we  have  taken  up  these  subjects.         1  1  / 

Father.  There  still  remain  certain  things  that  may  be 
thought  marvelous;  these,  however,  are  not  native  to 
the  land  but  have  originated  in  the  miraculous  powers 
of  holy  men,  and  we  know  of  a  truth  that  these  do  exist 
Certain  things  are  told,  too,  of  which  we  cannot  be  sure 
whether  they  are  credible  or  merely  the  talk  of  men, 
though  they  are  common  rumor  in  that  country;  but 
what  follows  we  know  to  be  true  beyond  a  doubt. 

In  that  same  lake  that  I  mentioned  earlier  which  is 
called  Logri,  lies  a  little  island  named  Inisclodran.  Once 
there  was  a  holy  man  named  Diermicius  who  had  a 
church  on  the  isle  near  which  he  lived.  Injto_jthjs_church 

he  is  JliejDatron  no  Jemale 
dJto  enjter.  All  beasts  are  aware  of  this, 

for  both  birds  and  other  animals  which  are  without 
human  reason  avoid  it  as  carefully  as  humans  do.    And 


no  creature  of  the  female  sex  ever  ventures  into  that 
churchyard,  nor  could  it  enter  if  it  tried.* 

Once  there  was  a  holy  man  in  that  country  named 
Kevinus,  who  lived  in  a  place  called  Glumelaga.f  At  the 
time  he  lived  almost  as  a  hermit,  and  the  event  which 
we  shall  now  relate  occurred  in  his  day.  It  so  befell  that 
a  young  man  was  living  with  him,  a  kinsman  of  his  who 
was  his  servant,  and  the  saint  loved  the  youth  very 
much.  But  the  lad  fell  ill  before  his  eyes,  and  the  malady 
grew  so  heavy  and  severe  that  death  seemed  imminent. 
It  was  in  the  spring  time,  in  the  month  of  March,  when 
the  man's  illness  was  at  the  worst.  Then  it  happened 
that  the  youth  asked  his  kinsman  Kevinus  to  give  him 
an  apple,  saying  that  he  would  find  relief  from  his  illness 
if  he  got  what  he  asked  for.  It  seemed  unlikely,  however, 
that  apples  could  be  gotten  in  that  season,  as  the  buds 
had  only  just  begun  to  swell  and  sprout  forth  leaves  on 
the  fruit  trees.  But  because  the  holy  Kevinus  grieved 
sorely  over  the  illness  of  his  kinsman,  and  also  because 
he  was  unable  to  procure  what  he  had  requested,  he 
knelt  down  in  prayer  and  implored  God  to  send  him 
somewhat  of  those  things,  so  that  his  kinsman  might  find 
the  relief  that  he  yearned  for.  Having  risen  from  prayer, 
he  stepped  outside  and  looked  around.  Near  the  house 

*  The  holy  island  which  is  shunned  by  all  females  is  mentioned  by  Giraldus 
(Opera,  V,  80-81),  but  he  fails  to  give  the  name  of  either  the  lake  or  the  island. 
In  the  "Wonders  of  Ireland"  (Irish  Nennius,  217)  this  island  is  also  the  one 
on  which  no  one  is  permitted  to  die.  A  similar  legend  is  alluded  to  in  Reliquiae 
Antiquae,  II,  107.  Meyer  believes  that  "  the  Norse  version  offers  a  combina- 
tion or  confusion  of  two  different  Irish  stories,  one  relating  to  Diarmait's 
churchyard  in  Inis  Clothrann,  and  the  other  relating  to  an  island  on  Loch 
Cre."  £riu,  IV,  9. 

t  Glendalough.  St.  Kevin  was  the  founder  of  the  great  abbey  of  Glendalough. 
The  year  of  his  death  is  variously  given  as  617  and  618. 


stood  a  willow  of  large  growth.  Kevinus  looked  up 
among  the  branches  of  the  willow  as  if  expecting  to  find 
help  and  comfort  there;  then  he  saw  that  apples  had 
grown  upon  the  willow,  just  as  there  would  be  on  an 
apple  tree  in  the  proper  season.  He  picked  three  apples 
and  gave  them  to  the  youth,  and  after  the  lad  had  eaten 
of  these,  his  illness  began  to  leave  him  and  he  was  cured 
of  the  malady.  But  the  willow  has  ever  since  continued 
to  keep  the  gift  that  God  gave  it  on  that  occasion,  for 
every  year  it  bears  apples  like  an  apple  tree;  and  since 
that  day  these  have  always  been  called  Saint  Kevinus' 
apples.*  They  have  been  carried  into  all  parts  of  Ire- 
land in  order  that  those  who  are  ill  may  partake  of  them; 
and  they  seem  to  have  virtue  in  all  human  ailments,  for 
those  who  eat  of  them  appear  to  get  relief.  But  they  are 
not  sweet  in  taste  and  would  not  be  wanted  if  men  did 
not  prize  them  for  their  healing  properties.  Many  won- 
derful things  have  come  to  pass  in  Ireland  which  certain  > 
highly  endowed  saints  have  brought  about  in  an  in-  / 
stant;  and  these,  too,  must  seem  very  marvelous.  Thus  / 
far,  however,  we  have  spoken  only  of  such  things  as  have  j 
been  achieved  through  a  holiness  so  great  that  they  re-^ 
main  as  a  testimony  to  this  day  and  seem  as  wonderful 
now  as  on  the  day  when  they  first  occurred.  But  those 
other  matters  that  men  regard  as  surely  genuine  and 
speak  of  as  actual  facts  we  may  now  proceed  to  point  out. 
In  that  country  there  is  also  a  place  called  Themar,t 
which  in  olden  times  was  apparently  a  capital  or  royal 

*  For  a  less  detailed  account  of  Saint  Kevin  and  the  wonderful  willow,  see 
Giraldus,  Opera,  V,  113.  Cf.  £riu,  IV,  9. 

t  Themar  was  the  ancient  royal  seat  Temhair,  now  Tara.  It  seems  to  be  al- 
luded to  in  Reliquiae  Antiquae,  II,  105.  Cf.  Eriu,  IV,  10. 


borough;  now,  however,  it  is  deserted,  for  no  one  dares 
to  dwell  there.  It  was  this  event  that  caused  the  place 
to  be  abandoned:  all  the  people  in  the  land  believed 
that  the  king  who  resided  at  Themar  would  always  ren- 
der just  decisions  and  never  do  otherwise;  although  they 
/^were  heathen  in  other  respects  and  did  not  have  the 
true  faith  concerning  God,  they  held  firmly  to  their  be- 
lief that  every  case  would  be  decided  properly  if  that 
king  passed  upon  it;  and  never,  they  thought,  could  an 
unrighteous  decision  come  from  his  throne.  On  what 
seems  to  have  been  the  highest  point  of  the  borough, 
the  king  had  a  handsome  and  well  built  castle  in  which 
was  a  large  and  beautiful  hall,  where  he  was  accustomed 
to  sit  in  judgment.  But  once  it  happened  that  certain 
lawsuits  came  before  the  king  for  decision  in  which  his 
friends  and  acquaintances  were  interested  on  the  one 
side,  and  he  was  anxious  to  support  their  contentions  in 
every  way.  But  those  who  were  interested  in  the  suits 
on  the  other  side  were  hostile  toward  him,  and  he  was 
their  enemy.  So  the  outcome  was  that  the  king  shaped 
his  decision  more  according  to  his  own  wish  than  to 
justice.  But  because  an  unrighteous  judgment  had  come 
whence  all  people  expected  just  decisions  and  because  of 
this  popular  belief,  the  judgment  seat  was  overturned 
and  the  hall  and  the  castle  likewise,  even  to  their  very 
foundations.  The  site,  too,  was  overturned,  so  that  those 
parts  of  the  earth  which  had  formerly  pointed  down- 
ward were  now  turned  upward;  and  all  the  houses  and 
halls  were  turned  down  into  the  earth  and  thus  it  has 
been  ever  since.  But  because  such  a  great  miracle  hap- 
pened there,  no  one  has  since  dared  to  inhabit  the  place, 


nor  has  any  king  ventured  to  set  up  his  throne  there; 
and  yet,  it  is  the  loveliest  place  known  in  all  that  coun- 
try. It  is  also  thought  that  if  men  should  attempt  to  re- 
build the  town,  not  a  single  day  would  pass  without  the 
appearance  of  some  new  marvel. 

There  is  still  another  wonder  in  that  country  which 
must  seem  quite  incredible;  nevertheless,  those  who 
dwell  in  the  land  affirm  the  truth  of  it  and  ascribe  it  to 
the  anger  of  a  holy  man.  It  is  told  that  when  the  holy 
Patricius  *  preached  Christianity  in  that  country,  there 
was  one  clan  which  opposed  him  more  stubbornly  than 
any  other  people  in  the  land;  and  these  people  strove  to 
do  insult  in  many  ways  both  to  God  and  to  the  holy 
man.  And  when  he  was  preaching  the  faith  to  them  as 
to  others  and  came  to  confer  with  them  where  they  held 
their  assemblies,  they  adopted  the  plan  of  howling  at 
him  like  wolves.  When  he  saw  that  he  could  do  very 
little  to  promote  his  mission  among  these  people,  he 
grew  very  wroth  and  prayed  God  to  send  some  form  of 
affliction  upon  them  to  be  shared  by  their  posterity  as 
a  constant  reminder  of  their  disobedience.  Later  these 
clansmen  did  suffer  a  fitting  and  severe  though  very 
marvelous  punishment,  for  it  is  told  that  all  the  mem- 
bers of  that  clan  are  changed  into  wolves  for  a  period 
and  roam  through  the  woods  feeding  upon  the  same  food 
as  wolves;  but  they  are  worse  than  wolves,  for  in  all 
their  wiles  they  have  the  wit  of  men,  though  they  are 
as  eager  to  devour  men  as  to  destroy  other  creatures. 
It  is  reported  that  to  some  this  affliction  comes  every 
seventh  winter,  while  in  the  intervening  years  they  are 

*  Saint  Patrick. 



men;  others  suffer  it  continuously  for  seven  winters  all 
told  and  are  never  stricken  again.* 

There  is  still  another  matter,  that  about  the  men  who 
are  called  "  gelts,"  |  which  must  seem  wonderful.  Men 
appear  to  become  gelts  in  this  way:  when  hostile  forces 
meet  and  are  drawn  up  in  two  lines  and  both  set  up  a 
terrifying  battle-cry,  it  happens  that  timid  and  youth- 
ful men  who  have  never  been  in  the  host  before  are 
sometimes  seized  with  such  fear  and  terror  that  they 
lose  their  wits  and  run  away  from  the  rest  into  the  for- 
est, where  they  seek  food  like  beasts  and  shun  the  meet- 
ing of  men  like  wild  animals.  It  is  also  told  that  if  these 
people  live  in  the  woods  for  twenty  winters  in  this  way, 
feathers  will  grow  upon  their  bodies  as  on  birds;  these 
serve  to  protect  them  from  frost  and  cold,  but  they  have 
no  large  feathers  to  use  in  flight  as  birds  have.  But  so 
great  is  their  fleetness  said  to  be  that  it  is  not  possible 
for  other  men  or  even  for  greyhounds  to  come  near 
them;  for  those  men  can  dash  up  into  a  tree  almost  as 
swiftly  as  apes  or  squirrels. 

There  happened  something  once  in  the  borough  called 
Cloena,}  which  will  also  seem  marvelous.  In  this  town 

*  See  the  poem  on  the  "Wonders  of  Ireland"  (Reliquiae  Antiquae,  II,  105), 
where  this  transformation  is  alluded  to.  Stories  of  men  who  have  become 
wolves  are  also  told  in  Giraldus,  Opera,  V,  101,  and  in  the  Irish  Nennius,  205; 
but  these  differ  widely  from  the  account  given  above.  Stories  of  werewolves 
and  lycanthropy  are  found  in  folklore  everywhere. 

t  Gelt  (gjalti)  is  evidently  a  Celtic  loanword,  a  form  of  the  Irish  geilt,  mean- 
ing mad  or  madman.  Cf .  the  Adventures  of  Suibhne  Geilt,  translated  by  J.  G. 
O'Keefe.  Suibhne  was  an  Irish  king  who  lost  his  reason  in  battle  and  for  years 
afterwards  led  a  wild  life  in  the  woods.  O'Keefe  thinks  that  the  author  of  the 
King's  Mirror  must  have  heard  the  tale  of  Suibhne  (pp.  xxxiv-xxxv).  See 
also  Eriu,  IV,  12. 

J  Kuno  Meyer  identifies  Cloena  with  Clomnacnois.  £riu,  IV,  12.  Clonmac- 
nois  is  in  King's  county  eight  miles  southwest  of  Athlone. 


there  is  a  church  dedicated  to  the  memory  of  a  saint 
named  Kiranus.*  One  Sunday  while  the  populace  was 
at  church  hearing  mass,  it  befell  that  an  anchor  was 
dropped  from  the  sky  as  if  thrown  from  a  ship;  for  a 
rope  was  attached  to  it,  and  one  of  the  flukes  of  the 
anchor  got  caught  in  the  arch  above  the  church  door. 
The  people  all  rushed  out  of  the  church  and  marveled 
much  as  their  eyes  followed  the  rope  upward.  They  saw 
a  ship  with  men  on  board  floating  before  the  anchor 
cable;  and  soon  they  saw  a  man  leap  overboard  and  dive 
down  to  the  anchor  as  if  to  release  it.  The  movements  of 
his  hands  and  feet  and  all  his  actions  appeared  like  those 
of  a  man  swimming  in  the  water.  When  he  came  down 
to  the  anchor,  he  tried  to  loosen  it,  but  the  people  imme- 
diately rushed  up  and  attempted  to  seize  him.  In  this 
church  where  the  anchor  was  caught,  there  is  a  bishop's 
throne.  The  bishop  was  present  when  this  occurred  and 
forbade  his  people  to  hold  the  man;  for,  said  he,  it  might 
prove  fatal  as  when  one  is  held  under  water.  As  soon  as 
the  man  was  released,  he  hurried  back  up  to  the  ship; 
and  when  he  was  up  the  crew  cut  the  rope  and  the  ship 
sailed  away  out  of  sight.  But  the  anchor  has  remained 
in  the  church  since  then  as  a  testimony  to  this  event.f 

*  St.  Ciaran  (Kiranus)  of  Clonmacnois  was  the  founder  of  a  great  monastery 
there.  The  year  of  his  death  is  given  as  547. 

t  In  the  Irish  Nennius  (211-213)  the  following  version  of  this  tale  appears. 
"  Congalach,  son  of  Maelmithig,  was  at  the  fair  of  Teltown  on  a  certain  day, 
when  he  saw  a  ship  (sailing)  along  in  the  air.  One  of  the  crew  cast  a  dart  at  a 
salmon.  The  dart  fell  down  in  the  presence  of  the  gathering,  and  a  man  came 
out  of  the  ship  after  it.  When  he  seized  its  end  from  above,  a  man  from  below 
seized  it  from  below.  Upon  which  the  man  from  above  said:  *  I  am  being 
drowned,'  said  he.  '  Let  him  go,'  said  Congalach;  and  he  is  allowed  to  go  up, 
and  then  he  goes  from  them  swimming."  The  translation  is  by  Kuno  Meyer: 
£riu,  IV,  13.  Congalach  was  an  Irish  king  (944-956);  Teltown  is  in  county 


I  believe  we  have  now  mentioned  all  the  features  of 
this  country  that  are  most  worth  discussing.  But  there 
is  one  other  matter  that  I  can  tell  about,  if  you  wish,  for 
the  sport  or  amusement  of  it.  Long  time  ago  a  clownish 
fellow  lived  in  that  country;  he  was  a  Christian,  how- 
ever, and  his  name  was  Klefsan.*  It  is  told  of  this  one 
that  there  never  was  a  man  who,  when  he  saw  Klefsan, 
was  not  compelled  to  laugh  at  his  amusing  and  absurd 
remarks.  Even  though  a  man  was  heavy  at  heart,  he 
could  not  restrain  his  laughter,  we  are  told,  when  he 
heard  that  man  talk.  But  Klefsan  fell  ill  and  died  and 
was  buried  in  the  churchyard  like  other  men.  He  lay 
long  in  the  earth  until  the  flesh  had  decayed  from  his 
bones,  and  his  bones,  too,  were  largely  crumbled.  Then 
it  came  to  pass  that  other  corpses  were  buried  in  the 
same  churchyard,  and  graves  were  dug  so  near  the  place 
where  Klefsan  lay  that  his  skull  was  unearthed,  and  it 
was  whole.  They  set  it  up  on  a  high  rock  in  the  church- 
yard, where  it  has  remained  ever  since.  But  whoever 
comes  to  that  place  and  sees  that  skull  and  looks  into 
the  opening  where  the  mouth  and  tongue  once  were  im- 
mediately begins  to  laugh,  even  though  he  were  in  a 
sorrowful  mood  before  he  caught  sight  of  that  skull. 
Thus  his  dead  bones  make  almost  as  many  people  laugh 
as  he  himself  did  when  alive.  Now  I  know  of  no  further 
facts  about  that  country  which  appear  to  be  suitable 
materials  with  which  to  lengthen  a  talk  like  this. 

Meath.  The  legend  is  alluded  to  in  Reliquiae  Antiquae,  II,  105,  with  some  dif- 
ference in  details. 

*  A  somewhat  different  version  of  this  tale  is  found  in  the  poem  on  the 
"Wonders  of  Ireland"  (Reliquiae  Antiquae,  II,  105).  See  also  £riu,  IV,  14. 





Son.  Now  since  we  have  discussed  everything  in  Ire- 
land that  may  be  counted  marvelous,  let  us  have  a  talk 
about  Iceland  and  the  wonders  that  are  found  in  the 
Icelandic  seas. 

Father.  Aside  from  the  whales  in  the  ocean,  there 
are,  I  should  say,  but  few  things  in  the  Icelandic  waters 
which  are  worth  mentioning  or  discussing.  The  whales 
vary  much  both  in  kind  and  size.  Those  that  are  called 
Oblubber-cutters  —  and  they  are  the  most  numerous  - 
grow  to  a  length  of  twenty  ells;  *  a  great  many  of  them 
are,  however,  so  small  that  they  measure  only  ten  ells; 
the  rest  are  in  between,  each  having  its  own  size.  These 
fishes  have  neither  teeth  nor  whalebone,  nor  are  they 
dangerous  either  to  ships  or  men,  but  are  rather  disposed 
to  avoid  the  fishermen.  Nevertheless,  they  are  con- 
stantly being  caught  and  driven  to  land  by  the  hun- 
dreds, and  where  many  are  caught,  they  provide  much 
food  for  men.fyThere  are  also  other  varieties  of  small 
whales,  such  as  the  porpoise,  which  is  never  longer  than 
five  ells,  and  the  caaing  whale,  which  has  a  length  of 
seven  ells  only. 

There  is  another  kind  of  whales  called  the  grampus, 
which  grow  no  longer  than  twelve  ells  and  have  teeth 

*  An  ell  was  approximately  eighteen  inches. 

t  Whale  fishing  is  an  ancient  industry  in  Norway;  it  is  mentioned  as  early  as 
the  ninth  century  in  the  writings  of  Alfred  the  Great.  See  Nansen,  In  North- 
ern Mists,  I,  172. 


in  proportion  to  their  size  very  much  as  dpgs  have. 
They  are  also  ravenous  for  other  whales  just  as  dogs 
are  for  other  beasts.  They  gather  in  flocks  and  attack 
large  whales,  and,  when  a  large  one  is  caught  alone, 
they  worry  and  bite  it  till  it  succumbs.  It  is  likely,  how- 
ever, that  this  one,  while  defending  itself  with  mighty 
blows,  kills  a  large  number  of  them  before  it  perishes. 

There  are  two  other  varieties,  the  beaked  whale  and 
the  "hog  whale, "  the  largest  of  which  are  not  more  than 
twenty-five  ells  in  length.  These  are  not  fit  to  be  eaten, 
for  the  fat  that  is  drawn  from  them  cannot  be  digested 
either  by  man  or  by  any  beast  that  may  partake  of  it. 
For  it  runs  through  them  and  even  through  wood;  and 
after  it  has  stood  a  while,  scarcely  any  vessel  can  con- 
tain it,  even  if  made  of  horn.  There  are  certain  other 
types  which  are  worth  a  passing  mention  only,  namely 
the  "  raven  whale  "  and  the  white  whale.*  The  white 
whales  are  so  named  because  of  their  show  white  color, 
while  most  other  varieties  are  black,  except  that  some 
of  them  have  spots,  such  as  the  "  shield  whale,"  the 
"  spear  whale,"  and  the  baleen  whale.  All  these  kinds 
that  I  have  just  mentioned  may  be  freely  eaten  and 
many  other  kinds  too. 

There  is  another  sort  of  whales  called  the  "  fish 
driver,"  f  which  is  perhaps  the  most  useful  of  all  to 

*  Probably  the  beluga,  also  called  white  whale.  The  other  varieties  named  in 
this  paragraph,  excepting  the  beaked  whale  and  the  baleen  whale  seem  not 
to  have  been  identified  with  any  known  types  of  whales.  It  has  been  sug- 
gested that  some  of  them  may  have  been  sharks.  See  Nansen,  In  Northern 
Mists,  II,  243. 

t  The  editor  of  the  Sor5  edition  identifies  this  with  the  nor-caper  (Balcena  gla- 
cialis),  though  he  thinks  it  possible  that  the  fin-fish  (Bcdcenoptera  laticeps)  may 
be  meant  (p.  125). 


men;  for  it  drives  the  herring  and  all  other  kinds  of 
fish  in  toward  the  land  from  the  ocean  outside,  as  if 
(Appointed  and  sent  by  the  Lord  for  this  purposed/This  j~\ 
is  its  duty  and  office  as  long  as  the  fishermen  keep  the      \ 
peace  on  the  fishing  grounds.  Its  nature  is  also  peculiar         \ 
in  this,  that  it  seemingly  knows  how  to  spare  both  ships 
and  men.  Butfwhen  the  fishermen  fall  to  quarreling  and  ~j 
fighting,  so  that  blood  is  spilt,  this  whale  seems  able  to 
perceive  it;  for  it  moves  in  between  the  land  and  the 
fish  and  chases  the  shoals  back  into  the  ocean,  just  as 
it  earlier  had  driven  them  in  toward  the  men.jThese 
whales  are  not  more  than  thirty  ells  in  length,  or  forty 
at  the  very  largest.  They  would  provide  good  food,  if 
men  were  allowed  to  hunt  them,  but  no  one  is  permitted 
to  catch  or  harm  them,  since  they  are  of  such  great  and 
constant  service  to  men. 

Another  kind  is  called  the  sperm  whale.  These  are 
toothed  whales,  though  the  teeth  are  barely  large 
enough  to  be  carved  into  fair-sized  knife  handles  or 
chess  men.  They  are  neither  fierce  nor  savage,  but  rather 
of  a  gentle  nature,  and  so  far  as  possible  they  avoid  the 
fishermen.  In  size  they  are  about  like  those  that  I  men- 
tioned last.  Their  teeth  are  so  numerous  that  more  than 
seventy  can  be  found  in  the  head  of  a  single  whale  of 
this  sort. 

Still  another  species  is  called  the  right  whale;  *  this 
has  no  fins  along  the  spine  and  is  about  as  large  as 
the  sort  that  we  mentioned  last.  Sea-faring  men  fear 
it  very  much,  for  it  is  by  nature  disposed  to  sport  with 

*  Balcena  mysticetus;  also  called  bowhead  or  Greenland  whale. 


There  is  another  kind  called  the  Greenland  shark,* 
which  is  peculiar  in  this,  that  it  has  caul  and  fat  in  the 
abdomen  like  cattle.  The  largest  of  these  whales  grow 
to  a  length  of  thirty  ells  at  most. 

There  are  certain  varieties  that  are  fierce  and  savage 
toward  men  and  are  constantly  seeking  to  destroy  them 
at  every  chance.  One  of  these  is  called  the  "  horse 
whale,"  and  another  the  "  red  comb."  f  They  are  very 
voracious  and  malicious  and  never  grow  tired  of  slaying 
men.  They  roam  about  in  all  the  seas  looking  for  ships, 
and  when  they  find  one  they  leap  up,  for  in  that  way 
they  are  able  to  sink  and  destroy  it  the  more  quickly. 
CThese  fishes  are  unfit  for  human  food;  being  the  natural 
_  enemies  of  mankind,  they  are,  in  fact,  loathsome]]  The 
~*  largest  of  this  type  never  grow  more  than  thirty  or  forty 

ells  in  length. 

There  is  still  another  sort  called  the  narwhal,  which 
may  not  be  eaten  for  fear  of  disease,  for  men  fall  ill  and 
die  if  they  eat  of  it.  This  whale  is  not  large  in  size;  it 
never  grows  longer  than  twenty  ells.  It  is  not  at  all  savage 
but  rather  tries  to  avoid  fishermen.  It  has  teeth  in  its 
head,  all  small  but  one  which  projects  from  the  front  of 
the  upper  jaw.  This  tooth  is  handsome,  well  formed,  and 
straight  as  an  onion  stem.  It  may  grow  to  a  length  of 
seven  ells  and  is  as  even  and  smooth  as  if  shaped  with 
a  tool.  It  projects  straight  forward  from  the  head  when 
the  whale  is  traveling;  but  sharp  and  straight  though  it 
is,  it  is  of  no  service  as  a  defensive  weapon;  for  the  whale 

*  It  is  possible  that  the  basking  sharks  are  meant  rather  than  the  Greenland 
sharks;  they  are  larger  than  the  Greenland  sharks,  but  do  not  seem  to  be 
common  in  the  Arctic  waters, 
t  The  "  horse  whale  "  and  the  "  red  comb  "  have  not  been  identified. 


is  so  fond  and  careful  of  its  tusk  that  it  allows  nothing 
to  come  near  it.  I  know  of  no  other  varieties  of  whales 
that  are  unfit  for  human  food,  only  these  five  that  I 
have  now  enumerated:  the  two  that  I  mentioned  first 
were  the  beaked  whale  and  the  "  hog  whale;  "  the  three 
mentioned  later  were  the  "  horse  whale,"  the  "  red 
comb,"  and  the  narwhal. 

There  are  certain  varieties  of  even  greater  size  which 
I  have  not  yet  described;  and  all  those  that  I  shall  now 
discuss  may  be  eaten  by  men.  Some  of  them  are  danger- 
ous for  men  to  meet,  while  others  are  gentle  and  peace- 
able. One  of  these  is  called  humpback;  this  fish  is  large 
and  very  dangerous  to  ships.  It  has  a  habit  of  striking 
at  the  vessel  with  its  fins  and  of  lying  and  floating  just 
in  front  of  the  prow  where  sailors  travel.  Though  the 
ship  turn  aside,  the  whale  will  continue  to  keep  in  front, 
so  there  is  no  choice  but  to  sail  upon  it;  but  if  a  ship  does 
sail  upon  it,  the  whale  will  throw  the  vessel  and  destroy 
all  on  board.  The  largest  of  these  fishes  grow  to  a  length 
of  seventy  or  eighty  ells;  they  are  good  to  eat. 

Then  there  is  that  kind  which  is  called  the  Greenland 
whale.*  This  fish  grows  to  a  length  of  eighty  or  even 
ninety  ells  and  is  as  large  around  as  it  is  long;  for  a 
rope  that  is  stretched  the  length  of  one  will  just  reach 
around  it  where  it  is  bulkiest.  Its  head  is  so  large  that  it 
comprises  fully  a  third  of  the  entire  bulk.  This  fish  is 
very  cleanly  in  choice  of  food;  for  people  say  that  it 
subsists  wholly  on  mist  and  rain  and  whatever  falls  into 
the  sea  from  the  air  above.  When  one  is  caught  and  its 

*  This  is  another  name  for  the  right  whale  described  above;  the  author's 
classification  in  this  case  must  have  been  based  on  size  only. 




entrails  are  examined,  nothing  is  found  in  its  abdomen 
like  what  is  found  in  other  fishes  that  take  food,  for  the 
abdomen  is  empty  and  clean.  It  cannot  readily  open 
and  close  its  mouth,  for  the  whalebone  which  grows  in 
it  will  rise  *  and  stand  upright  in  the  mouth  when  it  is 
opened  wide;  and  consequently  whales  of  this  type  often 
perish  because  of  their  inability  to  close  the  mouth. 
This  whale  rarely  gives  trouble  to  ships.  It  has  no  teeth 
and/is  fat  and  good  to  eat.J 

Then  there  is  a  kind  of  whale  called  the  rorqual,  and 
this  fish  is  the  best  of  all  for  food.  It  is  of  a  peaceful  dis- 
position and  does  not  bother  ships,  though  it  may  swim 
very  close  to  them.  This  fish  is  of  great  size  and  length; 
it  is  reported  that  the  largest  thus  far  caught  have  meas- 
ured thirteen  times  ten  ells,  that  is,  one  hundred  and 
thirty  ells  by  the  ten-count.  Because  of  its  quiet  and 
peaceful  behavior  it  often  falls  a  prey  to  whale  fishers. 
/It  is  better  for  eating  and  smells  better  than  any  of  the 
other  fishes  that  we  have  talked  about,  though  it  is  said 
to  be  very  fat;  it  has  no  teeth.  It  has  been  asserted,  too, 
that  if  one  can  get  some  of  the  sperm  of  this  whale  and 
be  perfectly  sure  that  it  came  from  this  sort  and  no 
other,  it  will  be  found  a  most  effective  remedy  for  eye 
troubles,  leprosy,  ague,  headache,  and  for  every  other 
ill  that  afflicts  mankind.  Sperm  from  other  whales  also 
makes  good  medicinev,  though  not  so  good  as  this  sort.J 
And  now  I  have  enumerated  nearly  all  the  varieties  of 
whales  that  are  hunted  by  men. 

*  The  author  seems  to  believe  that  the  whalebone  rises  from  the  lower  jaw  or 
the  floor  of  the  mouth;  as  a  matter  of  fact  it  is  fastened  to  the  palate. 


There  is  a  fish  not  yet  mentioned  which  it  is  scarcely 
advisable  to  speak  about  on  account  of  its  size,  which  to 
most  men  will  seem  incredible.  There  are,  moreover, 
but  very  few  who  can  tell  anything  definite  about  it, 
inasmuch  as  it  is  rarely  seen  by  men;  for  it  almost  never 
approaches  the  shore  or  appears  where  fishermen  can 
see  it,  and  I  doubt  that  this  sort  of  fish  is  very  plentiful 
in  the  sea.  In  our  language  it  is  usually  called  the  "kra- 
ken."  I  can  say  nothing  definite  as  to  its  length  in  ells, 
for  on  those  occasions  when  men  have  seen  it,  it  has 
appeared  more  like  an  island  than  a  fish.  Nor  have  I 
heard  that  one  has  ever  been  caught  or  found  dead.  It 
seems  likely  that  there  are  but  two  in  all  the  ocean  and 
that  these  beget  no  offspring,  for  I  believe  it  is  always 
the  same  ones  that  appear.  Nor  would  it  be  well  for 
other  fishes  if  they  were  as  numerous  as  the  other  whales, 
seeing  that  they  are  so  immense  and  need  so  much  food. 
It  is  said,  that  when  these  fishes  want  something  to  eat, 
they  are  in  the  habit  of  giving  forth  a  violent  belch, 
which  brings  up  so  much  food  that  all  sorts  of  fish  in  the 
neighborhood,  both  large  and  small,  will  rush  up  in  the 
hope  of  getting  nourishment  and  good  fare.  Meanwhile 
the  monster  keeps  it  mouth  open,  and  inasmuch  as  its 
opening  is  about  as  wide  as  a  sound  or  fjord,  the  fishes 
cannot  help  crowding  in  in  great  numbers.  But  as  soon  as 
its  mouth  and  belly  are  full,  the  monster  closes  its  mouth 
and  thus  catches  and  shuts  in  all  the  fishes  that  just 
previously  had  rushed  in  eagerly  to  seek  food.* 

*  The  kraken  myth  probably  came  to  the  North  with  the  legend  of  St.  Bren- 
dan, an  Irish  abbot,  who  was  believed  to  have  made  a  journey  into  the  At- 


Now  we  have  mentioned  and  described  most  of  those 
things  in  the  Icelandic  waters  that  would  be  counted 
wonderful,  and  among  them  a  few  that  are  more  plenti- 
ful in  other  seas  than  in  those  which  we  have  just  dis- 



Son.  Now  since  we  have  named  most  of  the  species  of 
fish  that  roam  about  in  the  ocean,  those  that  are  worth 
mentioning  or  discussing,  I  should  like  to  hear  about 
those  features  of  the  land  itself  that  are  most  worthy  of 
mention.  What  do  you  think  of  the  extraordinary  fire 
which  rages  constantly  in  that  country  ?  Does  it  rise 
out  of  some  natural  peculiarity  of  the  land,  or  can  it  be 
that  it  has  its  origin  in  the  spirit  world  ?  And  what  do 
you  think  about  those  terrifying  earthquakes  that  can 
occur  there,  or  those  marvelous  lakes,  or  the  ice  which 
covers  all  the  higher  levels  ? 

Father.  As  to  the  ice  that  is  found  in  Iceland,  I  am 
inclined  to  believe  that  it  is  a  penalty  which  th£  land 
suffers  for  lying  so  close  to  Greenland;  for  it  is  to  be 
expected  that  severe  cold  would  come  thence,  since 
Greenland  is  ice-clad  beyond  all  other  lands.  Now  since 
Iceland  gets  so  much  cold  from  that  side  and  receives 
but  little  heat  from  the  sun,  it  necessarily  has  an  over- 
abundance of  ice  on  the  mountain  ridges.  But  concern- 
ing the  extraordinary  fires  which  burn  there,  I  scarcely 
know  what  to  say,  for  they  possess  a  strange  nature.  I 

lantic  about  the  middle  of  the  sixth  century.  The  oldest  extant  form  of  the 
legend,  the  Navigatio  Brendani,  dates  from  the  eleventh  century.  For  earlier 
versions  of  the  myth  see  Nansen,  In  Northern  Mists,  II,  234. 


have  heard  that  in  Sicily  there  is  an  immense  fire  of  un- 
usual power  which  consumes  both  earth  and  wood.  I 
have  also  heard  that  Saint  Gregory  has  stated  in  his 
Dialogues  *  that  there  are  places  of  torment  f  in  the 
fires  of  Sicily.  But  men  are  much  more  inclined  to  be- 
lieve that  there  must  be  such  places  of  torment  in  those 
fires  in  Iceland.  For  the  fires  in  Sicily  feed  on  living 
things,  as  they  consume  both  earth  and  wood.  Trees  x 
live;  they  grow  and  put  forth  green  leaves;  but  they 
dry  up  and  wither  when  they  begin  to  die;  therefore, 
since  they  die  when  they  wither,  they  must  be  called  ;  ,  *, 
living  while  they  are  green.  The  earth,  too,  must  be  /  ! 
called  living,  inasmuch  as  it  sometimes  yields  much  / 
fruitage;  and  as  soon  as  one  crop  is  fallen  into  decay,  / 
it  gives  new  growth.  All  living  creatures,  too,  are  formea 
of  earth,  and  therefore  it  surely  must  be  called  living. 
Both  these  things,  earth  and  wood,  the  fires  of  Sicily 
can  burn  and  consume  as  nourishment.  The  fire  of  Ice- 
land, however,  will  burn  neither  earth  nor  wood,  though 
these  be  cast  upon  it;  but  it  feeds  upon  stone  and  hard 
rock  and  draws  vigor  from  these  as  other  fires  do  from 
dry  wood.  And  never  is  rock  or  stone  so  hard  but  that 
this  fire  will  melt  it  like  wax  and  then  burn  it  like  fat 
oil.  But  when  a  tree  is  cast  upon  the  fire,  it  will  not  burn 
but  be  scorched  only.  Now  since  this  fire  feeds  on  dead 
things  only  and  rejects  everything  that  other  fires  de- 
vour, it  must  surely  be  said  that  it  is  a  dead  fire;  and  it 

*  Dialogorum  Libri  IV.  Pope  Gregory  died  in  604.  The  Icelandic  version  of 
Gregory's  Dialogues  is  published  in  Heilagra  Manna  Sogur,  I. 
t  It  is  difficult  to  determine  whether  the  author  uses  "  places  of  torment  "  as 
a  term  for  hell  or  for  purgatory;  it  seems  probable,  however,  that  in  this  case 
hell  is  meant. 


seems  most  likely  that  it  is  the  fire  of  hell,  for  in  hell  all 
things  are  dead. 

I  am  also  disposed  to  believe  that  certain  bodies  of 
water  in  Iceland  must  be  of  the  same  dead  nature  as  the 
fire  that  we  have  described.  For  there  are  springs  which 
boil  furiously  all  the  time  both  winter  and  summer.  At 
times  the  boiling  is  so  violent  that  the  heated  water  is 
thrown  high  into  the  air.  But  whatever  is  laid  near  the 
spring  at  the  time  of  spouting,  whether  it  be  cloth  or 
wood  or  anything  else  that  the  water  may  touch  when 
it  falls  down  again,  will  turn  to  stone.  This  seems  to 
lead  to  the  conclusion  that  this  water  must  be  dead, 
seeing  that  it  gives  a  dead  character  to  whatever  it 
sprinkles  and  moistens;  for  the  nature  of  stone  is  dead. 
But  if  the  fire  should  not  be  dead  but  have  its  origin  in 
some  peculiarity  of  the  country,  the  most  reasonable 
theory  as  to  the  formation  of  the  land  seems  to  be  that 
there  must  be  many  veins,  empty  passages,  and  wide 
cavities  in  its  foundations.  At  times  it  may  happen  that 
these  passages  and  cavities  will  be  so  completely  packed 
with  air,  either  by  the  winds  or  by  the  power  of  the  roar- 
ing breakers,  that  the  pressure  of  the  blast  cannot  be 
confined,  and  this  may  be  the  origin  of  those  great  earth- 
quakes that  occur  in  that  country.*  Now  if  this  should 
seem  a  reasonable  or  plausible  explanation,  it  may  be 
that  the  great  and  powerful  activity  of  the  air  within 
the  foundations  of  the  earth  also  causes  those  great  fires 
to  be  lit  and  to  appear,  which  burst  forth  in  various 
parts  of  the  land.f 

*  For  the  history  of  this  theory  see  above,  pp.  17-18. 
t  The  number  of  volcanoes  hi  Iceland  is  variously  given,  but  the  more  reli- 
able authorities  give  107. 


Now  it  must  not  be  regarded  as  settled  that  the  facts 
are  as  we  have  just  said;  we  have  merely  tried  to  bring 
together  and  compare  various  opinions  in  order  to  de- 
termine what  seems  most  reasonable.  For  we  see  that 
all  fire  originates  in  force.  If  a  hard  stone  is  stricken 
against  hard  iron,  fire  comes  out  of  the  iron  and  out  of 
the  energy  of  the  stroke  when  they  clash.  You  can  also 
rub  pieces  of  wood  against  each  other  in  such  a  way  that 
their  antagonism  will  produce  fire.  It  also  happens  fre- 
quently that  two  winds  rising  at  the  same  time  will  go 
against  each  other;  and  when  they  meet  in  the  air,  heavy 
blows  fall,  and  these  blows  give  forth  a  great  fire  which 
spreads  widely  over  the  sky.*  At  times  it  also  happens 
that  this  fire  is  driven  to  the  earth  where  it  causes  much 
damage  by  burning  houses  and  sometimes  forests  and 
ships  at  sea.  But  all  the  fires  that  I  have  now  named, 
whether  they  come  from  iron,  or  winds  colliding  in  the 
air,  or  any  of  those  mighty  forces  which  can  produce 
fire,  will  consume  trees,  forests,  and  earth:  while  the  fire 
which  we  discussed  earlier  and  which  appears  in  Iceland 
refuses  all  these  things,  as  I  have  already  shown.  Now 
these  facts  lead  to  this  conclusion  as  to  its  nature,  that 
it  is  more  likely  to  have  arisen  from  dead  things  or  from 
like  sources,  than  those  other  fires  that  we  have  now 
discussed.  And  in  case  it  is  as  we  have  imagined,  it  is 
likely  that  the  great  earthquakes  of  that  country  origi- 
nate in  the  power  of  those  mighty  fires  that  well  through 
the  bowels  of  the  land. 

*  The  common  belief  of  medieval  scientists  was  that  lightning  was  caused  by 
the  collision  of  clouds. 



C*     'V    fc 

Son.  Hi  should  like  very  much,  with  your  permission, 

l(Jlf.  ^_to  ask  further  about  this  firejYou  stated  earlier  in  your 
remarks  that  Gregory  has  written  in  his  Dialogues  that 
there  are  places  of  torment  in  Sicily;  but  to  me  it  seems 
more  likely  that  those  places  are  in  Iceland.  You  also 
said  that  so  vast  are  the  fires  in  the  bowels  of  the  land 
that  earthquakes  arise  out  of  their  violent  movements; 
but  if  the  fires  are  so  destructive  to  stone  and  rock  that 
it  melts  them  like  wax  and  feeds  wholly  upon  them,  I 
should  imagine  that  it  would  soon  consume  all  the  foun- 
dations beneath  the  land  and  all  the  mountains  as  well. 
Though  you  may  think  I  am  asking  childish  questions 
about  these  things,  still  I  entreat  you  to  give  indulgent 
replies;  for,  of  course,  one  can  ask  many  questions  that 
reveal  youth  rather  than  wisdom. 

Father.  I  have  no  doubt  that  there  are  places  of  tor- 
ment in  Iceland  even  in  places  where  there  is  no  burn- 
ing; for  in  that  country  the  power  of  frost  and  ice  is  as 
boundless  as  that  of  fire.  There  are  those  springs  of  boil- 
ing water  which  we  have  mentioned  earlier.  There  are 
also  ice-cold  streams  which  flow  out  of  the  glaciers  with 
such  violence  that  the  earth  and  the  neighboring  moun- 
tains tremble;  for  when  water  flows  with  such  a  swift 
and  furious  current,  mountains  will  shake  because  of  its 
vast  mass  and  overpowering  strength.  And  no  men  can 
go  out  upon  those  river  banks  to  view  them  unless  they 
bring  long  ropes  to  be  tied  around  those  who  wish  to 
explore,  while  farther  away  others  sit  holding  fast  the 


rope,  so  that  they  may  be  ready  and  able  to  pull  them 
back  if  the  turbulence  of  the  current  should  make  them 
dizzy.  Now  it  seems  evident  to  me  that  wherever  such 
a  great  violence  appears  and  in  such  terrible  forms,  there 
surely  must  be  places  of  torment.  And  God  has  made 
such  great  and  terrifying  things  manifest  upon  earth  to 
man,  not  only  that  men  may  be  the  more  vigilant,  and 
may  reflect  that  these  tortures  are  indeed  heavy  to 
think  upon,  although  after  they  depart  this  life  they 
will  have  to  suffer  those  that  they  see  while  still  on 
earth;  but  even  more  to  make  them  reflect  that  greater 
still  are  the  things  invisible,  which  they  are  not  per- 
mitted to  see.  But  these  things  are  a  testimony,  that  it 
is  not  untrue  what  we  have  been  told,  that  those  men 
who  will  not  beware  of  evil  deeds  and  unrighteousness, 
while  they  live  on  earth,  may  expect  to  suffer  torment 
when  they  leave  this  world.  For  many  a  simple-minded 
man  might  think  that  all  this  was  mere  deception  un- 
worthy of  notice  and  told  merely  to  terrify,  if  there  were 
no  such  evidence  as  what  we  have  now  pointed  out.  But 
now  no  one  can  deny  what  he  sees  before  his  own  eyes, 
since  we  hear  exactly  the  same  things  about  the  tor- 
tures of  hell  as  those  which  one  can  see  on  the  island 
called  Iceland:  for  there  are  vast  and  boundless  fire, 
overpowering  frost  and  glaciers,  boiling  springs,  and 
violent  ice-cold  streams.* 

But  what  you  suggested  just  now,  namely  that  this 
fire  is  likely  to  melt  and  consume  the  mountains  and  the 

*  The  belief  that  hell  was  a  region  of  extreme  cold  as  well  as  of  heat  was  com- 
mon in  the  middle  ages.  The  author  of  the  King's  Mirror  probably  derived 
his  ideas  of  hell  in  part  from  the  Old  Norse  version  of  the  Elucidarium  of 
Honorius  of  Autun.  See  Annaler  for  nordisk  Oldkyndighed,  1857,  292. 


foundations  of  the  earth,  so  that  the  entire  land  will  be 

destroyed,  that  cannot  come  to  pass  before  the  time 

that  God  has  appointed.  For  neither  this  created  force 

,   nor  any  other  governs  itself  £but  all  things  are  compelled 

"  "         *  <^  to  move  as  God's  providence  has  ordained  from  the  be- 

CginningJAnd  you  will  understand  this  better  if  I  take 

up  certain  events  that  can  be  used  to  illustrate  these 


When  the  lord  of  death  wished  to  tempt  Job,  he  had 
no  power  to  do  so  before  he  had  asked  permission;  and 
when  this  had  been  granted,  he  did  not  have  power  to 
carry  out  his  will  farther  than  the  permission  extended; 
for  he  would  gladly  have  slain  Job  at  once,  if  that  had 
been  allowed.  He  was  allowed  to  take  away  Job's  wealth 
and  he  took  it  all  at  the  first  stroke;  but  he  was  not  per- 
mitted to  destroy  the  man  himself.  As  he  yearned  for 
permission  to  tempt  him  even  more  severely  than  he 
had  already,  he  was  suffered  to  carry  out  his  will  upon 
Job's  body  and  upon  all  the  possessions  that  belonged 
to  him.  But  he  was  not  permitted  to  separate  soul  from 
body,  before  the  hour  should  come  that  He  had  fixed, 
Who  has  all  power  over  life  and  destiny.  But  as  soon  as 
Satan  had  received  permission  to  carry  out  his  desires 
upon  Job,  he  showed  immediately  how  eager  he  was  to 
act  in  such  matters  as  were  within  his  power.  For  it  is 
written  that  Satan  took  away  from  Job  his  abundant 
wealth  and  his  seven  sons  and  three  daughters,  and 
smote  his  body  with  terrible  leprosy  from  the  crown  to 
the  sole  of  his  feet. 

/**£  Now  the  meaning  of  this  (which  ought  to  be  noted 
J  carefully  in  our  minds)  is  that  the  Lord  of  life  has  power 


over  all  things  and  is  kindly  disposed;  while  the  lord  of 
death  has  an  evil  will,  but  has  power  over  nothing,  ex- 
cept as  he  receives  authority  beforehand  from  Him 
Who  rules  over  all,  Who  is  Almighty  GodjThe  devil 
can,  therefore,  injure  no  one  to  such  an  extent  that  he 
is  consumed  either  by  the  fires  of  death  which  he  has 
kindled  and  continues  to  maintain  by  means  of  dread- 
ful earthquakes,  or  by  such  other  fiendish  enmity  or 
malignity  as  he  delights  in.  For  he  is  allowed  to  do 
nothing  more  than  the  task  at  hand,  as  is  evident  from 
what  I  have  just  related  about  the  case  of  Job.  And  if 
it  should  be  thought  necessary  to  cite  several  examples 
in  one  speech,  it  will  be  found  that  instances  of  this  sort 
are  both  plentiful  and  convincing. 



Son.  It  seems  evident  that  the  more  examples  I  can 
hear  you  cite  of  the  sort  that  leads  to  knowledge,  the 
better  it  will  be;  and  from  the  instance  that  you  have 
just  given  I  can  see  clearly  that  if  Satan  was  not  able  to 
carry  out  his  will  against  one  man,  except  as  far  as  he 
was  permitted,  he  will  surely  have  even  less  power  to 
carry  out  his  desires  against  many  thousands,  either  by 
his  own  effort  or  through  a  servant,  except  as  far  as  per- 
mission has  been  given.  Now  if  we  are  to  go  on  with  this 
entertaining  conversation,  as  we  have  been  doing,  I 
should  like  to  know,  whether  there  are  any  other  things 
about  this  island  which  you  think  are  worth  discussing 
or  which  seem  remarkable. 


Father.  We  have  already  mentioned  nearly  every- 
thing in  Iceland  that  is  really  worth  noticing;  but  there 
are  a  few  other  things  which  I  may  discuss,  if  you  wish. 
In  that  country  there  is  an  abundance  of  the  ore  that 
iron  is  made  of:  it  is  called  "  swamp-ore  "  in  the  speech 
of  the  people  there,  and  the  same  term  is  used  among 
ourselves.  It  has  happened  at  times  that  great  deposits 
of  this  ore  have  been  found,  and  men  have  prepared  to 
go  thither  the  next  day  to  smelt  it  and  make  iron  of  it, 
only  to  find  it  gone,  and  none  can  tell  what  becomes  of 
it.  This  is  called  the  "  ore-marvel  "  in  that  country. 
There  is  still  another  marvel  that  men  wonder  at.  It  is 
reported  that  in  Iceland  there  are  springs  which  men  call 
\y^  **jf  ale-springs. f They  are  so  called  because  the  water  that 

•  ^e  *          )  runs  from  them  smells  more  like  ale  than  water;  and 
i       fas    </ 

I  when  one  drinks  of  it,  it  does  not  fill  as  other  water  does, 
-  but  is  easily  digested  and  goes  into  the  system  like  ale.J 
There  are  several  springs  in  that  country  that  are  called 
ale-springs;  but  one  is  the  best  and  most  famous  of  all; 
this  one  is  found  in  the  valley  called  Hiterdale.*  It  is 
told  about  this  spring,  or  the  water  flowing  from  it,  that 
it  tastes  exactly  like  ale  and  is  very  abundant.  It  is  also 
said  that  if  drunk  to  excess,  it  goes  into  one's  head.  If  a 
house  is  built  over  the  spring  it  will  turn  aside  from  the 
building  and  break  forth  somewhere  outside.  It  is  fur- 
ther held  that  people  may  drink  as  much  as  they  like 
at  the  spring;  but  if  they  carry  the  water  away£it  will 
soon  lose  its  virtuejand  is  then  no  better  than  other 

*  Mineral  springs  yielding  carbonated  waters  are  found  in  Iceland,  though 
they  are  not  numerous.  The  Hiterdale  spring  is  probably  mythical.  See  Herr- 
mann, Island,  I,  66. 


water,  or  not  so  good.  Now  we  have  discussed  many 
and  even  trifling  things,  because  in  that  country  they 
are  thought  marvelous;  and  I  cannot  recall  anything 
else  in  Iceland  that  is  worth  mentioning. 



Son.  Now  that  we  have  entered  upon  this  interesting 
conversation  and  have  spoken  of  the  marvels  that  are 
found  in  Iceland  and  the  Icelandic  seas,  let  us  close  it 
by  calling  to  mind  what  is  worth  noting  in  the  waters  of 
Greenland  or  in  the  land  itself  and  the  wonders  that  are 
to  be  seen  there. 

Father.  It  is  reported  that  the  waters  about  Green- 
land are  infested  with  monsters,  though  I  do  not  believe 
that  they  have  been  seen  very  frequently.  Still,  people 
have  stories  to  tell  about  them,  so  men  must  have  seen 
or  caught  sight  of  them.  It  is  reported  that  the  monster 
called  merman  is  found  in  the  seas  of  Greenland.  This 
monster  is  tall  and  of  great  size  and  rises  straight  out  of 
the  water.  It  appears  to  have  shoulders,  neck  and  head, 
eyes  and  mouth,  and  nose  and  chin  like  those  of  a  hu- 
man being;  but  above  the  eyes  and  the  eyebrows  it  looks 
more  like  a  man  with  a  peaked  helmet  on  his  head.  It 
has  shoulders  like  a  man's  but  no  hands.  Its  body  ap- 
parently grows  narrower  from  the  shoulders  down,  so 
that  the  lower  down  it  has  been  observed,  the  more 
slender  it  has  seemed  to  be.  But  no  one  has  ever  seen 
how  the  lower  end  is  shaped,  whether  it  terminates  in  a 
fin  like  a  fish  or  is  pointed  like  a  pole.  The  form  of  this 


prodigy  has,  therefore,  looked  much  like  an  icicle.  No 
one  has  ever  observed  it  closely  enough  to  determine 
whether  its  body  has  scales  like  a  fish  or  skin  like  a  man. 
Whenever  the  monster  has  shown  itself,  men  have  al- 
ways been  sure  that  a  storm  would  follow.  They  have 
also  noted  how  it  has  turned  when  about  to  plunge  into 
the  waves  and  in  what  direction  it  has  fallen;  if  it  has 
turned  toward  the  ship  and  has  plunged  in  that  direc- 
tion, the  sailors  have  felt  sure  that  lives  would  be  lost 
on  that  ship;  but  whenever  it  has  turned  away  from 
the  vessel  and  has  plunged  in  that  direction,  they  have 
felt  confident  that  their  lives  would  be  spared,  even 
though  they  should  encounter  rough  waters  and  severe 

Another  prodigy  called  mermaid  *  has  also  been  seen 
there.  This  appears  to  have  the  form  of  a  woman  from 
the  waist  upward,  for  it  has  large  nipples  on  its  breast 
like  a  woman,  long  hands  and  heavy  hair,  and  its  neck 
and  head  are  formed  in  every  respect  like  those  of  a 
human  being.  The  monster  is  said  to  have  large  hands 
and  its  fingers  are  not  parted  but  bound  together  by  a 
web  like  that  which  joins  the  toes  of  water  fowls.  Below 
the  waist  line  it  has  the  shape  of  a  fish  with  scales  and 

*  The  belief  that  mermaids  lived  in  the  Arctic  waters  was  one  that  was  long 
held  by  European  navigators.  Henry  Hudson  reports  that  on  his  voyage  into 
the  Arctic  in  1608  (June  15)  some  of  his  men  saw  a  mermaid.  "  This  morning 
one  of  our  companie  looking  over  boord  saw  a  mermaid,  and  calling  up  some 
of  the  companie  to  see  her,  one  more  came  up  and  by  that  tune  shee  was  come 
close  to  the  ships  side,  looking  earnestly  on  the  men:  a  little  after  a  sea  came 
and  overturned  her:  from  the  navill  upward  her  backe  and  breasts  were  like 
a  womans,  as  they  say  that  saw  her;  her  body  as  big  as  one  of  us;  her 
skin  very  white,  and  long  haire  hanging  downe  behind  of  colour  blacke: 
in  her  going  downe  they  saw  her  tayle,  which  was  like  the  tayle  of  a  porposse 
and  speckled  like  a  macrell."  Asher,  Henry  Hudson,  28. 


tail  and  fins.  It  is  said  to  have  this  in  common  with  the 
one  mentioned  before,  that  it  rarely  appears  except  be- 
fore violent  storms.  Its  behavior  is  often  somewhat  like 
this:  it  will  plunge  into  the  waves  and  will  always  re- 
appear with  fish  in  its  hands;  if  it  then  turns  toward  the 
ship,  playing  with  the  fishes  or  throwing  them  at  the 
ship,  the  men  have  fears  that  they  will  suffer  great  loss 
of  life.  The  monster  is  described  as  having  a  large  and 
terrifying  face,  a  sloping  forehead  and  wide  brows,  a 
large  mouth  and  wrinkled  cheeks.  But  if  it  eats  the 
fishes  or  throws  them  into  the  sea  away  from  the  ship, 
the  crews  have  good  hopes  that  their  lives  will  be  spared, 
even  though  they  should  meet  severe  storms. 

Now  there  is  still  another  marvel  in  the  seas  of  Green- 
land, the  facts  of  which  I  do  not  know  precisely.  It  is 
called  "  sea  hedges,"  *  and  it  has  the  appearance  as  if 
all  the  waves  and  tempests  of  the  ocean  have  been  col- 
lected into  three  heaps,  out  of  which  three  billows  are 
formed.  These  hedge  in  the  entire  sea,  so  that  no  open- 
ing can  be  seen  anywhere;  they  are  higher  than  lofty 
mountains  and  resemble  steep,  overhanging  cliffs.  In  a 
few  cases  only  have  the  men  been  known  to  escape  who 
were  upon  the  seas  when  such  a  thing  occurred.  But  the 
stories  of  these  happenings  must  have  arisen  from  the 
fact  that  God  has  always  preserved  some  of  those  who 
have  been  placed  in  these  perils,  and  their  accounts  have 
afterwards  spread  abroad,  passing  from  man  to  man.  It 

*  The  Danish  scientist  I.  Japetus  S.  Steenstrup  has  shown  in  his  paper  "  Hvad 
er  Kongespeilets  Havgjerdinger  ?  "  that  this  phenomenon  is  produced  by  sea 
quakes.  The  three  huge  waves  did  not  form  a  triangle  as  the  author's  account 
would  seem  to  imply;  they  were  three  successive  waves  rolling  in  toward  the 
shore.  Steenstrup  argues  chiefly  from  the  behavior  of  sea  quakes  in  modern 
times.  Aarboger  for  nor  disk  Oldkyndighed  og  Historic,  1871. 


may  be  that  the  tales  are  told  as  the  first  ones  related 
them,  or  the  stories  may  have  grown  larger  or  shrunk 
somewhat.  Consequently,  we  have  to  speak  cautiously 
about  this  matter,  for  of  late  we  have  met  but  very  few 
who  have  escaped  this  peril  and  are  able  to  give  us  tid- 
ings about  it. 

In  that  same  ocean  there  are  many  other  marvels, 
though  they  cannot  be  reckoned  among  the  prodigies. 
As  soon  as  one  has  passed  over  the  deepest  part  of  the 
ocean,  he  will  encounter  such  masses  of  ice  in  the  sea, 
that  I  know  no  equal  of  it  anywhere  else  in  all  the  earth. 
Sometimes  these  ice  fields  are  as  flat  as  if  they  were 
frozen  on  the  sea  itself.  They  are  about  four  or  five  ells 
thick  and  extend  so  far  out  from  the  land  that  it  may 
mean  a  journey  of  four  days  or  more  to  travel  across 
them.  There  is  more  ice  to  the  northeast  and  north  of 
the  land  than  to  the  south,  southwest,  and  west;  con- 
sequently, whoever  wishes  to  make  the  land  should  sail 
around  it  to  the  southwest  and  west,  till  he  has  come 
past  all  those  places  where  ice  may  be  looked  for,  and 
approach  the  land  on  that  side.*  It  has  frequently  hap- 
pened that  men  have  sought  to  make  the  land  too  soon 
and,  as  a  result,  have  been  caught  in  the  ice  floes.  Some 
of  those  who  have  been  caught  have  perished;  but  others 
have  got  out  again,  and  we  have  met  some  of  these  and 
have  heard  their  accounts  and  tales.  But  all  those  who 

*  The  settled  portion  of  Greenland  is  in  the  southern  part  on  the  west  coast. 
The  author  wishes  to  say  that  a  ship  sailing  from  Norway  to  Greenland  must 
round  Cape  Farewell  and  proceed  some  distance  up  the  west  coast  before  try- 
ing to  make  land.  For  a  discussion  of  the  conditions  of  settlement  in  Green- 
land and  the  navigation  of  the  waters  about  Greenland,  see  Hovgaard,  The 
Voyages  of  the  Norsemen  to  America,  c.  ii;  Nansen,  In  Northern  Mists,  cc.  vii, 


have  been  caught  in  these  ice  drifts  have  adopted  the 
same  plan:  they  have  taken  their  small  boats  and  have 
dragged  them  up  on  the  ice  with  them,  and  in  this  way 
have  sought  to  reach  land;  but  the  ship  and  everything 
else  of  value  had  to  be  abandoned  and  was  lost.  Some 
have  had  to  spend  four  days  or  five  upon  the  ice  before 
reaching  land,  and  some  even  longer. 

These  ice  floes  have  peculiar  habits.  Sometimes  they 
lie  as  quiet  as  can  be,  though  cut  apart  by  creeks  or 
large  fjords;  at  other  times  they  travel  with  a  speed  so 
swift  and  violent  that  a  ship  with  a  fair  wind  behind  is 
not  more  speedy;  and  when  once  in  motion,  they  travel 
as  often  against  the  wind  as  with  it.  There  is  also  ice  of 
a  different  shape  which  the  Greenlanders  call  icebergs. 
In  appearance  these  resemble  high  mountains  rising  out 
of  the  sea;  they  never  mingle  with  other  ice  but  stand 
by  themselves. 

In  those  waters  there  are  also  many  of  those  species 
of  whales  which  we  have  already  described.  It  is  claimed 
that  there  are  all  sorts  of  seals,  too,  in  those  seas,  and 
that  they  have  a  habit  of  following  the  ice,  as  if  abun- 
dant food  would  never  be  wanting  there.  These  are  the 
species  of  seals  that  are  found  there.  One  is  called  the 
"  corse  seal;  "  its  length  is  never  more  than  four  ells. 
There  is  another  sort  called  the  "  erken-seal,"  *  which 
grows  to  a  length  of  five  ells  or  six  at  the  very  longest. 
Then  there  is  a  third  kind  which  is  called  the  "  flett 
seal,"  which  grows  to  about  the  same  length  as  those 
mentioned  above.  There  is  still  a  fourth  kind,  called  the 

*  This  is  called  haverkn  in  modern  Norse  and  seems  to  be  the  same  as  the 
grey  seal:  Halichoerus  gryphus.  See  Nansen,  In  Northern  Mists,  II,  155. 


bearded  seal,  which  occasionally  grows  to  a  length  of 
six  ells  or  even  seven.  In  addition  there  are  various 
smaller  species,  one  of  which  is  called  the  saddleback;  * 
it  has  this  name  because  it  does  not  swim  on  the  belly 
like  other  seals  but  on  the  back  or  side;  its  length  is 
never  more  than  four  ells.  There  remains  the  smallest 
kind,  which  is  called  the  "  short  seal  "  and  is  not  more 
than  two  ells  in  length.  It  has  a  peculiar  nature;  for  it  is 
reported  that  these  seals  can  pass  under  flat  ice  masses 
four  or  even  five  ells  thick  and  can  blow  up  through 
them;  consequently  they  can  have  large  openings  where- 
ever  they  want  them. 

There  still  remains  another  species  which  the  Green- 
landers  count  among  the  whales,  but  which,  it  seems  to 
me,  ought  rather  to  be  classed  with  the  seals. f  These  are 
called  walrus  and  grow  to  a  length  of  fourteen  ells  or 
fifteen  at  the  very  highest.  In  shape  this  fish  resembles 
the  seal  both  as  to  hair,  head,  skin,  and  the  webbed  feet 
behind;  it  also  has  the  swimming  feet  in  front  like  the 
seal.  Its  flesh  like  that  of  other  seals  must  not  be  eaten 
on  fast  days.  Its  appearance  is  distinguished  from  that 
of  other  seals  in  that  it  has,  in  addition  to  the  other  small 
teeth,  two  large  and  long  tusks,  which  are  placed  in  the 
front  part  of  the  upper  jaw  and  sometimes  grow  to  a 
s  length  of  nearly  an  ell  and  a  half,  [jts  hide  is  thick  and 
»fe<  J,  good  to  make  ropes  ofj^it  can  be  cut  into  leather  strips 
of  such  strength  that  sixty  or  more  men  may  pull  at  one 
rope  without  breaking  it.  The  seals  that  we  have  just 
discussed  are  called  fish  because  they  find  their  food 

*  Also  called  the  harp  seal:  Phoca  Gramlandica. 

t  This  observation  accords  with  modern  scientific  classification. 


in  the  sea  and  subsist  upon  other  fishes.  They  may  be 
freely  eaten,  though  not  like  the  whales,  for  whale  flesh 
may  be  eaten  on  fast  days  like  other  fish  food,  while  these 
fishes  may  be  eaten  only  on  the  days  when  flesh  food  is 
allowed.  Now  I  know  of  nothing  else  in  the  waters  of 
Greenland  which  seems  worth  mentioning  or  reporting, 
—  only  those  things  that  we  have  just  discussed. 



Son.  These  things  must  seem  wonderful  to  all  who 
may  hear  of  them,  —  both  what  is  told  about  the  fishes 
and  that  about  the  monsters  which  are  said  to  exist  in 
those  waters.  Now  I  understand  that  this  ocean  must 
be  more  tempestuous  than  all  other  seas;  and  therefore 
I  think  it  strange  that  it  is  covered  with  ice  both  in  win- 
ter and  in  summer,  more  than  all  other  seas  are.  I  am 
also  curious  to  know  why  men  should  be  so  eager  to  fare 
thither,  where  there  are  such  great  perils  to  beware  of, 
and  what  one  can  look  for  in  that  country  which  can  be 
turned  to  use  or  pleasure.  With  your  permission  I  also 
wish  to  ask  what  the  people  who  inhabit  those  lands  live 
upon;  what  the  character  of  the  country  is,  whether  it 
is  ice-clad  like  the  ocean  or  free  from  ice  even  though  the 
sea  be  frozen;  and  whether  corn  grows  in  that  country 
as  in  other  lands.  I  should  also  like  to  know  whether  you 
regard  it  as  mainland  or  as  an  island,  and  whether  there 
are  any  beasts  or  such  other  things  in  that  country  as 
there  are  in  other  lands. 



Father.  The  answer  to  your  query  as  to  what  people 
go  to  seek  in  that  country  and  why  they  fare  thither 
through  such  great  perils  is  to  be  sought  ii£man's  three- 
fold nature.  One  motive  is  fame  and  rivalry,  for  it  is  in 
the  nature  of  man  to  seek  places  where  great  dangers 
may  be  met,  and  thus  to  win  fame.  A  second  motive  is 
curiosity,  for  it  is  also  in  man's  nature  to  wish  to  see 
and  experience  the  things  that  he  has  heard  about,  and 
thus  to  learn  whether  the  facts  are  as  told  or  not.  The 
third  is  desire  for  gain;  for  men  seek  wealth  wherever 
they  have  heard  that  gain  is  to  be  gotten,  though,  on 
the  other  hand,  there  may  be  great  dangers  toojBut 
in  Greenland  it  is  this  way,  as  you  probably  know,  that 
whatever  comes  from  other  lands  is  high  in  price,  for 
this  land  lies  so  distant  from  other  countries  that  men 
seldom  visit  it.  And  everything  that  is  needed  to  im- 
-  prove  the  land  must  be  purchased  abroad,[both  iron  and 
all  the  timber  used  in  building  houses  Jin  return  for  their 

/wares  the  merchants  bring  back  the /folio  wing  products: 
buckskin,  or  hides,  sealskins,  and  rope  of  the  kind  that 
\  we  talked  about  earlier  which  is  called  "  leather  rope  " 
/  and  is  cut  from  the  fish  called  walrus,  and  also  the  teeth 
-  of  the  walrus.  J 

As  to  {whether  any  sort  of  grain  can  grow  there,  my 
belief  is  that  the  country  draws  but  little  profit  from 
that  source.] And  yet  there  are  men  among  those  who 
are  counted  the  wealthiest  and  most  prominent  who 
"**  ^5/-?"ave  trie(l to  sow  grain  as  an  experiment;  but(the  great 
;^— //  maJ°rity  in  that  country  do  not  know  what  bread  is, 
having  never  seen  it.]You  have  also  asked  about  the  ex- 
tent of  the  land  and  whether  it  is  mainland  or  an  island; 


but  I  believe  that  few  know  the  size  of  the  land,  though 
all  believe  that  it  is  continental  and  connected  with  some 
mainland,  inasmuch  as  it  evidently  contains  a  number 
of  such  animals  as  are  known  to  live  on  the  mainland 
but  rarely  on  islands.  Hares  and  wolves  are  very  plenti- 
ful and  there  are  multitudes  of  reindeer.  It  seems  to  be 
generally  held,  however,  that  these  animals  do  not  in- 
habit islands,  except  where  men  have  brought  them 
in;  and  everybody  seems  to  feel  sure  that  no  one  has 
brought  them  to  Greenland,  but  that  they  must  have 
run  thither  from  other  mainlands.  There  are  bears,  too, 
in  that  region;  they  are  white,  and  people  think  they 
are  native  to  the  country,  for  they  differ  very  much  in 
their  habits  from  the  black  bears  that  roam  the  forests. 
These  kill  horses,  cattle,  and  other  beasts  to  feed  upon; 
but  the  white  bear  of  Greenland  wanders  most  of  the 
time  about  on  the  ice  in  the  sea,  hunting  seals  and 
whales  and  feeding  upon  them.  It  is  also  as  skillful  a 
swimmer  as  any  seal  or  whale. 

In  reply  to  your  question  whether  the  land  thaws  out 
or  remains  icebound  like  the  sea,  I  can  state  definitely 
that  only  a  small  part  of  the  land  thaws  out,  while  all 
the  rest  remains  under  the  ice.  But  nobody  knows 
whether  the  land  is  large  or  small,  because  all  the  moun- 
tain ranges  and  all  the  valleys  are  covered  with  ice,  and 
no  opening  has  been  found  anywhere.  But  it  is  quite 
evident  that  there  are  such  openings,  either  along  the 
shore  or  in  the  valleys  that  lie  between  the  mountains, 
through  which  beasts  can  find  a  way;  for  they  could  not 
run  thither  from  other  lands,  unless  they  should  find 
open  roads  through  the  ice  and  the  soil  thawed  out. 


Men  have  often  tried  to  go  up  into  the  country  and 
climb  the  highest  mountains  in  various  places  to  look 
about  and  learn  whether  any  land  could  be  found  that 
was  free  from  ice  and  habitable.  But  nowhere  have  they 
found  such  a  place,  except  what  is  now  occupied,  which 
is  a  little  strip  along  the  water's  edge. 

There  is  much  marble  in  those  parts  that  are  inhab- 
ited; it  is  variously  colored,  both  red  and  blue  and 
r  streaked  with  green.  [There  are  also  many  large  hawks  in 
the  land,  which  in  other  countries  would  be  counted  very 
C  precious/) —  white  falcons,  and  they  are  more  numerous 
there  than  in  any  other  country;  but  the  natives  do  not 
know  how  to  make  any  use  of  them.* 



Son.  You  stated  earlier  in  your  talk  that  no  grain 
grows  in  that  country;  therefore  I  now  want  to  ask 
you  what  the  people  who  inhabit  the  land  live  on,  how 
large  the  population  is,  what  sort  of  food  they  have,  and 
whether  they  have  accepted  Christianity. 

Father.  The  people  in  that  country  are  few,  for  only 
a  small  part  is  sufficiently  free  from  ice  to  be  habitable; 
but  the  people  are  all  Christians  and  have  churches  and 
priests.  If  the  land  lay  near  to  some  other  country  it 
might  be  reckoned  a  third  of  a  bishopric;  but  the  Green- 

*  In  the  thirteenth  century,  the  century  of  the  King's  Mirror,  falconry  was  a 
favorite  sport  of  the  European  nobility  and  there  seems  to  have  been  some 
demand  for  Norwegian  hawks.  In  the  Close  Rolls  of  the  reign  of  Henry  III 
there  are  allusions  to  gifts  of  hawks  sent  by  the  king  of  Norway  to  the  Eng- 
lish king.  See  above  p.  29. 


landers  now  have  their  own  bishop,*  as  no  other  ar- 
rangement is  possible  on  account  of  the  great  distance 
from  other  people.  You  ask  what  the  inhabitants  live 
on  in  that  country  since  they  sow  no  grain;  but  men 
can  live  on  other  food  than  bread,  f  It  is  reported  that 
the  pasturage  is  good  and  that  there  are  large  and  fine 
farms  in  Greenland. [The  farmers  raise  cattle  and  sheep  ~7 
in  large  numbers  and  make  butter  and  cheese  in  great  /         i^ 
quantities.  The  people  subsist  chiefly  on  these  foods  and    y      x- 
on  beef;  but  they  also  eat  the  flesh  of  various  kinds  of  / 
game,  such  as  reindeer,  whales,  seals,  and  bears.  That  1 
is  what  men  live  on  in  that  country.  3 



Son.  I  believe  I  still  have  some  questions  to  ask  about 
this  country.  How  do  you  account  for  the  fact  that 
Greenland  and  the  ocean  that  lies  about  it  have  greater 
masses  of  ice  than  any  other  land  or  sea  ?  For  I  gather 
from  what  you  have  said  that  the  ocean  is  deep  and 
also  very  salt  and  always  in  commotion;  and  I  did  not 
suppose  that  it  could  freeze  readily  there,  since,  (where  O 
the  ocean  is  deep  and  the  water  is  salt,  ice  forms  with  (        ^^^ 
difficulty,  especially  when  the  sea  is  in  turmoil  and  the  \  1 
waves  roll  highj  But  now  I  hear  about  these  waters  that  -^ 
we  have  just  talked  about  and  likewise  about  the  land, 

*  The  diocese  of  Gardar  in  Greenland  was  established  about  1110.  For  an 
account  of  the  Norwegian  colony  in  Greenland  see  Gjerset,  History  of  the  Nor- 
wegian People,  I,  197-204. 

t  Cf.  the  papal  letter  of  Alexander  VI,  written  in  1492.  Olson  and  Bourne, 
The  Northmen,  Columbus,  and  Cabot,  73-74. 


that  there  is  never  an  interval  when  the  land  or  the  sea 
is  not  covered  with  ice,  except  that  occasionally  an  open- 
ing appears  here  and  there  in  the  ice  field;  but  this  is 
due  to  the  stirring  of  the  sea  and  not  to  the  heat. 

Now  since  the  land  is  constantly  frozen  over  in  both 
winter  and  summer,  I  wish  to  ask  you  to  tell  me  exactly 
how  the  climate  is  in  Greenland:  whether  there  is  any 
warmth  or  fair  sunshine  as  in  other  lands,  or  if  the 
weather  is  always  unpleasant,  and  whether  that  is  what 
causes  the  excessive  ice  and  frost.  I  should  like  to  have 
you  clear  this  matter  up  for  me  along  with  those  things 
that  I  asked  about  earlier  in  our  conversation,  and  what 
that  thing  is  which  the  Greenlanders  call  the  northern 
lights.*  All  these  questions  I  should  like  to  have  you 
answer,  and  also  this,  in  what  part  of  the  world  you  be- 
lieve that  country  to  be  located:  whether  it  lies  some- 
where on  the  edge  of  the  world  or  about  some  large  bend 
in  the  ocean  like  other  extensive  lands,  seeing  that  you 
think  it  is  joined  to  other  mainlands. 

Father.  The  matters  about  which  you  have  now  in- 
quired I  cannot  wholly  clear  up  for  you,  inasmuch  as  I 
have  not  yet  found  any  one  who  has  knowledge  of  the 
entire  "  home-circle  "  f  and  its  dimensions  and  who  has 
explored  the  whole  earth  on  all  its  sides,  or  the  nature  of 
the  lands  and  the  landmarks  located  there.  If  I  had  ever 

*  We  should  infer  from  the  form  of  this  question  and  from  the  later  discussion 
of  the  northern  lights  that  this  phenomenon  was  not  prominent  in  Norway 
in  the  thirteenth  century.  There  seem  to  be  periods  when  these  "  lights  "  are 
less  in  evidence  than  at  other  times.  But  it  should  also  be  noted  that  the  au- 
thor discusses  whales  in  connection  with  Greenland  and  Iceland  only,  though 
it  is  extremely  likely  that  whales  were  not  unknown  on  the  shores  of  Norway. 
t  The  "  home-circle  "  (kringla  heimsins)  was  the  Old  Norse  translation  for 
the  Latin  orbis  terrae,  orb  of  the  earth. 



met  such  a  man,  one  who  had  seen  and  examined  these 
things,  I  should  have  been  able  to  give  you  full  informa- 
tion about  them.  But  I  can  at  least  tell  you  what  those 
men  have  conjectured  who  have  formed  the  most  rea-y 
sonable  opinions. 

The  men  who  have  written  best  concerning  the  nature  j  y 

of  the  earth,  following  the  guidance  of  Isidore  and  other^  ^ 
learned  men,*  state  that  there  are  certain  zones  on  the  f  Qjf 
heavens  under  which  men  cannot  live.  One  is  very  hot 
and,  because  of  the  glowing  heat  which  burns  every- 
thing that  comes  beneath  it,  people  cannot  exist  under 
this  zone.  It  seems  reasonable  that  this  is  the  broad  path 
of  the  sun,  and  I  believe  it  is  because  this  zone  is  per- 
vaded with  the  sun's  flaming  rays  that  no  one  who 
wishes  only  a  moderately  warm  dwelling  place  can  live 
beneath  it.  These  writers  have  also  said  concerning  two 
other  zones  in  the  sky  that  under  them  too  the  land  is 
uninhabitable;  because,  on  account  of  their  frigidity,  it 
is  no  more  comfortable  to  dwell  under  them  than  under 
the  first  mentioned  where  the  heat  is  torrid.  For  there 
the  cold  has  developed  such  a  power  that  water  casts 
aside  its  nature  and  turns  into  ice  masses;  in  this  way 
all  those  lands  become  ice-cold,  and  the  seas  too,  that 
lie  under  either  of  these  two  zones.  From  this  I  conclude 
that  there  are  five  zones  in  the  heavens:  two  under 

*  Isidore  of  Seville  (d.  636)  discusses  the  five  zones  in  his  Etymologiae,  iii,  c. 
xliv;  xiii,  c.  vi;  and  in  his  DeNatura  Rerum,  c.  x.  The  editors  of  the  Sorb  edition 
suggest  that  the  "  other  learned  men  "  may  be  Macrobius  and  Martianus 
Capella,  the  famous  encyclopedists  of  the  fifth  century  (p.  195).  But  as  these 
writers  preceded  Isidore  by  nearly  two  centuries,  it  is  unlikely  that  their 
works  were  more  than  indirect  sources  for  the  scientific  statements  in  the 
Speculum  Regale.  It  is  more  probable  that  the  reference  is  to  such  writers  as 
Bede,  Rabanus  Maurus,  and  Honorius  of  Autun,  though  it  is  impossible  to 
specify  what  authority  was  followed. 


which  the  earth  is  habitable,  and  three  under  which  it 
is  uninhabitable. 

Now  all  the  land  that  lies  under  the  zones  between 
the  hot  and  the  cold  belts  can  be  occupied;  but  it  is 
likely  that  owing  to  location  the  lands  differ  somewhat, 
so  that  some  are  hotter  than  others;  the  hottest  being 
those  that  are  nearest  the  torrid  belt.  But  lands  that 
are  cold,  like  ours,  lie  nearer  the  frigid  zones,  where  the 
frost  is  able  to  use  its  chilling  powers.  Now  in  my  opinion 
it  seems  most  probable  that  the  hot  zone  extends  from 
east  to  west  in  a  curved  ring  like  a  flaming  girdle  around 
the  entire  sphere.  On  the  other  hand,  it  is  quite  probable 
that  the  cold  zones  lie  on  the  outer  edges  of  the  world 
to  the  north  and  south :  and  in  case  I  have  thought  this 
out  correctly,  it  is  not  unlikely  that  Greenland  lies  under 
the  frigid  belt;  for  most  of  those^who  have  visited  Green- 
land testify  that  there  the  cold  has  received  its  greatest 
strength.  Moreover,  both  sea  and  land  bear  testimony  in 
their  very  selves  that  there  the  frost  and  the  overpower- 
ing cold  have  become  dominant,  for  both  are  frozen  and 
covered  with  ice  in  summer  as  well  as  in  winter. 

It  has  been  stated  as  a  fact  that  Greenland  lies  on  the 
outermost  edge  of  the  earth  toward  the  north;  and  I  do 
not  believe  there  is  any  land  in  the  home-circle  beyond 
Greenland,  only  the  great  ocean  that  runs  around  the 
earth.  And  we  are  told  by  men  who  are  informed  that 
alongside  Greenland  the  channel  is  cut  through  which 
the  wide  ocean  rushes  into  the  gap  that  lies  between  the 
land  masses  and  finally  branches  out  into  fjords  and  in- 
lets which  cut  in  between  the  lands  wherever  the  sea  is 
allowed  to  flow  out  upon  the  earth's  surface. 


You  asked  whether  the  sun  shines  in  Greenland  and 
whether  there  ever  happens  to  be  fair  weather  there  as 
in  other  countries;  and  you  shall  know  of  a  truth  that 
the  land  has  beautiful  sunshine  and  is  said  to  have  a 
rather  pleasant  climate.  The  sun's  course  varies  greatly, 
however;  when  winter  is  on,  the  night  is  almost  contin- 
uous; but  when  it  is  summer,  there  is  almost  constant 
day.  When  the  sun  rises  highest,  it  has  abundant  power 
to  shine  and  give  light,  but  very  little  to  give  warmth 
and  heat;  still,  it  has  sufficient  strength,  where  the 
ground  is  free  from  ice,  to  warm  the  soil  so  that  the 
earth  yields  good  and  fragrant  grass.  Consequently, 
^people  may  easily  till  the  land  where  the  frost  leaves, 
but  that  is  a  very  small  part.  J 

But  as  to  that  matter  which  you  have  often  inquired 
about,  what  those  lights  can  be  which  the  Greenlanders 
call  the  northern  lights,  I  have  no  clear  knowledge.  I 
have  often  met  men  who  have  spent  a  long  time  in 
Greenland,  but  they  do  not  seem  to  know  definitely 
what  those  lights  are.  However,  it  is  true  of  that  subject 
as  of  many  others  of  which  we  have  no  sure  knowledge, 
that  thoughtful  men  will  form  opinions  and  conjec- 
tures about  it  and  will  make  such  guesses  as  seem  rea- 
sonable and  likely  to  be  true.  But  these  northern  lights 
have  this  peculiar  nature,  that  the  darker  the  night  is, 
the  brighter  they  seem;  and  they  always  appear  at 
night  but  never  by  day,  —  most  frequently  in  the  dens- 
est darkness  and  rarely  by  moonlight.  In  appearance 
they  resemble  a  vast  flame  of  fire  viewed  from  a  great 
distance.  It  also  looks  as  if  sharp  points  were  shot  from 
this  flame  up  into  the  sky;  these  are  of  uneven  height 


and  in  constant  motion,  now  one,  now  another  darting 
highest;  and  the  light  appears  to  blaze  like  a  living 
flame.  While  these  rays  are  at  their  highest  and  bright- 
est, they  give  forth  so  much  light  that  people  out  of 
doors  can  e'asily  find  their  way  about  and  can  even  go 
hunting,  if  need  be.  Where  people  sit  in  houses  that 
have  windows,  it  is  so  light  inside  that  all  within  the 
room  can  see  each  other's  faces.  The  light  is  very  change- 
able. Sometimes  it  appears  to  grow  dim,  as  if  a  black 
smoke  or  a  dark  fog  were  blown  up  among  the  rays;  and 
then  it  looks  very  much  as  if  the  light  were  overcome  by 
this  smoke  and  about  to  be  quenched.  But  as  soon  as 
the  smoke  begins  to  grow  thinner,  the  light  begins  to 
brighten  again;  and  it  happens  at  times  that  people 
think  they  see  large  sparks  shooting  out  of  it  as  from 
glowing  iron  which  has  just  been  taken  from  the  forge. 
But  as  night  declines  and  day  approaches,  the  light  be- 
gins to  fade;  and  when  daylight  appears,  it  seems  to 
vanish  entirely. 

The  men  who  have  thought  about  and  discussed  these 

lights  have  guessed  at  three  sources,  one  of  which,  it 

seems,  ought  to  be  the  true  one.  Some  hold  that  fire 

/  circles  about  the  ocean  and  all  the  bodies  of  water  that 

(     stream  about  on  the  outer  sides  of  the  globe;  and  since 

^Greenland  lies  on  the  outermost  edge  of  the  earth  to  the 

north,  they  think  it  possible  that  these  lights  shine  forth 

from  the  fires  that  encircle  the  outer  ocean.  Others  have 

suggested  that  during  the  hours  of  night,  when  the  sun's 

course  is  beneath  the  earth,  an  occasional  gleam  of  its 

light  may  shoot  up  into  the  sky;  for  they  insist  that 

Greenland  lies  so  far  out  on  the  earth's  edge  that  the 


curved  surface  which  shuts  out  the  sunlight  must  be 
less  prominent  there.  But  there  are  still  others  who  be- 
lieve (and  it  seems  to  me  not  unlikely)  that  the  frost 
and  the  glaciers  have  become  so  powerful  there  that 
they  are  able  to  radiate  forth  these  flames.  I  know 
nothing  further  that  has  been  conjectured  on  this  sub- 
ject, only  these  three  theories  that  I  have  presented;  as 
to  their  correctness  I  do  not  decide,  though  the  last 
mentioned  looks  quite  plausible  to  me.  I  know  of  no 
other  facts  about  Greenland  that  seem  worth  discussing 
or  mentioning,  only  those  that  we  have  talked  abou 
and  what  we  have  noted  as  the  opinions  of  well-informed 



Son.  Everything  that  you  have  told  here  seems  won- 
derful to  me,  though  also  very  instructive,  and  this  fact 
most  of  all,  that  men,  as  you  have  pointed  out,  are  able 
to  leave  the  earth,  as  it  were,  and  view  for  themselves 
the  boundaries  which  God  has  drawn  amid  such  great 
perils.  Your  last  remark,  however,  suggests  that  there 
is  yet  a  little  matter  to  inquire  about  along  this  same 
line.  In  speaking  of  those  three  conjectures  you  said 
that  you  think  it  most  likely  that  these  lights  have  their 
origin  in  frost  and  ice;  but  just  before  in  describing  their 
appearance,  you  added  that  now  and  then  fog  and  dark 
mist  resembling  smoke  would  mount  up  among  these 
lights.  But  even  if  the  cold  should  be  so  prevalent  there 
as  to  give  rise  to  these  lights  with  their  fire-like  rays,  I 
cannot  help  wondering  whence  that  smoke  can  come 

j  /  yo 

JZJ>    (     in 


which  sometimes  appears  to  shade  and  becloud  the 
light  till  it  seems  almost  quenched;  for  to  me  it  seems 
more  likely  that  the  smoke  is  due  to  heat  than  to  frost. 
There  is  one  more  thing  that  looks  strange  to  me  which 
you  mentioned  earlier  in  your  speech,  namely  that  you 
consider  Greenland  as  having  a  good  climate,  even 
though  it  is  full  of  ice  and  glaciers.  It  is  hard  for  me  to 
understand  how  such  a  land  can  have  a  good  climate. 

Father.  When  you  say,  in  asking  about  the  smoke 
that  sometimes  appears  to  accompany  the  northern 
lights,  that  you  think  it  more  likely  that  the  smoke 
xjomes  from  heat  than  from  cold,  I  agree  with  you.  But 
you  must  also  know  that  wherever  the  earth  is  thawed 
under  the  ice,  it  always  retains  some  heat  down  in  the 
^ — » depths.  In  the  same  way  the  ocean  under  the  ice  re- 
tains some  warmth  in  its  depths.  But  if  the  earth  were 
wholly  without  warmth  or  heat,  it  would  be  one  mass 
of  ice  from  the  surface  down  to  its  lowest  foundations. 
Likewise,  if  the  ocean  were  without  any  heat,  it  would 
be  solid  ice  from  the  surface  to  the  bottom.  Now  large 
rifts  may  appear  in  the  ice  that  covers  the  land  as  well 
as  openings  in  the  ice  upon  the  sea.  But  wherever  the 
earth  thaws  out  and  lies  bare,  whether  in  places  where 
there  is  no  ice  or  under  the  yawning  rifts  in  the  glacier, 
and  wherever  the  sea  lies  bare  in  the  openings  that  have 
formed  in  the  ice,  there  steam  is  emitted  from  the  lower 
depths;  and  it  may  be  that  this  vapor  collects  and  ap- 
pears like  smoke  or  dark  fog;  and  that,  whenever  it 
looks  as  if  the  lights  are  about  to  be  quenched  by  smoke 
or  fog,  it  is  this  vapor  that  collects  before  them. 


In  reply  to  your  remark  about  the  climate  of  Green- 
land, that  you  think  it  strange  that  it  is  called  a  good 
climate,  I  shall  tell  you  something  about  the  nature  of 
the  land.  When  storms  do  come,  they  are  more  severe 
than  in  most  other  places,  both  with  respect  to  keen 
winds  and  vast  masses  of  ice  and  snow.  But  usually 
these  spells  of  rough  weather  last  only  a  short  while 
and  come  at  long  intervals  only.  In  the  meantime  the 
weather  is  fair,  though  the  cold  is  intense.  For  it  is  in 
the  nature  of  the  glacier  to  emit  a  cold  and  continuous 
breath  which  drives  the  storm  clouds  away  from  its 
face  so  that  the  sky  above  is  usually  clear.*  But  the 
neighboring  lands  often  have  to  suffer  because  of  this; 
for  all  the  regions  that  lie  near  get  severe  weather  from 
this  ice,  inasmuch  as  all  the  storms  that  the  glacier 
drives  away  from  itself  come  upon  others  with  keen 
blasts.  Now  if  this  is  clear  to  you,  I  believe  there  is  no 
need  of  giving  any  further  explanation  of  the  subject 
than  what  you  have  now  heard. 



Son.  These  things  are  all  clear  to  me  and  it  seems 
reasonable  that  they  should  be  as  you  say.  Still,  there 
are  a  few  things  that  you  mentioned  a  little  earlier  in 
your  talk,  which  I  wish  to  ask  about,  if  you  permit^You 
said  that  both  sides  of  the  earth  are  cold,  the  southern 

*  By  glacier  the  author  evidently  means  the  great  inland  ice  masses.  On  the 
effect  of  this  inland  ice  on  the  climate  of  Greenland  and  neighboring  regions, 
see  Nansen,  In  Northern  Mists,  II  247 


[I-g  as  well  as  the  northern  jBut  I  hear  it  said  by  all  men 
who  come  from  the  regions  to  the  south  that  the  farther 
south  one  travels,  the  hotter  the  lands  are.  Likewise  all 
the  winds  that  come  from  the  south  are  both  moister 
and  milder  than  other  winds.  In  the  winter  those  winds 
always  bring  a  good  thaw,  while  other  winds  are  so  cold 
that  they  bring  frost,  and  ice  is  formed.  And  during  the 
summer  the  south  wind  is  still  warmer  than  other  winds. 
Now  if  my  questions  do  not  tire  you  and  I  do  not  seem 
to  ask  too  much,  I  should  like  to  have  you  answer  this 
question  too. 

Father.  When  I  told  you  that  in  the  skies  three  belts 
are  traced  under  which  it  is  difficult  to  cross,  one  torrid 
and  two  frigid,  I  added  that  the  hot  belt  curves  from 
east  to  west.  But  if  I  have  stated  this  correctly,  it  will 
be  evident  that  the  cold  must  be  as  severe  in  the  south- 

(ern  parts  as  in  the  northern.*  I  believe,  however,  that 
all  the  regions  lying  near  the  hot  belt,  whether  on  the 
south  side  or  on  the  north,  are  also  hot;  but  I  believe 
those  lands  to  be  frigid  which  lie  very  far  in  either  di- 
rection*. You  have  stated  that  all  men  tell  us  that  the 
farther  south  one  travels,  the  greater  the  heat;  but  that, 
[  I  believe,  is  due  to  the  fact  that  you  have  never  found 
any  one  who  has  traveled  as  far  south  of  the  hot  belt  as 
;  those  lands  which  we  have  now  talked  of  lie  to  the  north. 
You  have  also  said  that  the  winds  which  come  from  a 
southerly  direction  are  warmer  than  the  rest.  But  it  is 
reasonable  that  the  south  wind  should  be  warm  when  it 

*  Cf.  Macrobius,  601.  "...  for  both  the  northern  and  the  southern  extrem- 
ities lie  stiff  with  perpetual  frost,  and  they  are  like  two  zones  with  which  the 
earth  is  girdled,  but  narrow  as  if  they  were  circlets  drawn  about  the  farthest 


reaches  us,  even  though  it  comes  from  the  frozen  south!  $J 
side  of  the  earth,  for  it  blows  through  the  curved  ring 
of  the  torrid  belt.*  Consequently,  though  it  blows  cold 
from  the  south,  it  is  warm  when  it  emerges  on  the  north- 
ern side.  And  if  people  live  as  near  the  cold  belt  on  the 
southern  side  as  the  Greenlanders  do  on  the  northern, 
I  firmly  believe  that  the  north  wind  blows  as  warm  to 
them  as  the  south  wind  to  us.  For  they  must  look  north 
to  see  the  midday  and  the  sun's  whole  course,  just 
as  we,  who  dwell  north  of  the  sun,  must  look  to  the 

We  have  said  earlier  that  in  winter  the  sun's  course 
here  is  short,  but  of  such  extraordinary  length  in  sum- 
mer that  we  then  have  day  nearly  all  the  time.  From 
this  you  may  conclude  that  the  sun's  path  is  quite 
broad  and  that  its  course  is  not  narrow  and  straight  as 
if  it  were  always  following  a  certain  line.  As  soon  as  it 
reaches  the  outer  edge  of  its  sloping  circuit  toward  the 
south,  those  who  live  on  the  extreme  side  of  the  world 
to  the  south  have  summer  and  long  sun  paths,  while  we 
have  winter  and  little  sunlight.  And  when  the  sun  comes 
to  the  extreme  edge  of  its  circuit  to  the  north,  we  have 
long-continued  sunshine,  while  they  have  cold  winter. 
For  it  is  always  this  way,  that  the  sun  rises  higher  in  the 
north  when  its  path  declines  in  the  south:  and  when  its 
course  begins  to  decline  in  the  north,  it  begins  to  wax 
on  the  southern  side. 

*  Macrobius  states  the  same  belief  in  quite  similar  terms:  the  south  wind 
comes  from  a  frozen  clime  just  as  the  north  wind  does;  but "  since  it  comes  to 
us  through  the  flames  of  the  torrid  zone  and  mixes  with  the  fire,  it  becomes 
hot,  so  that  what  was  cold  in  the  beginning  comes  to  us  with  warmth."  (P. 



f/You  should  also  know  that  the  change  from  day  to 
night  is  due  to  the  movements  of  the  sunj  For  some 
places  have  midday  when  others  have  midnight;  and 
the  day  dawns  and  brightens  in  some  places  just  when 
darkness  begins  and  night  falls  in  other  places.*  For 
the  day  and  the  light  always  follow  the  sun,  while  the 
shadows  flee  from  it;  still  they  follow  after  it  as  it  moves 
away;  and  there  is  always  night  where  the  shadows  are, 
but  always  day  where  the  light  is.  Now  if  you  under- 
stand all  these  things  that  we  have  discussed  in  these 
hours,  the  change  in  day  and  night,  the  course  of  the 
sun,  and  all  the  other  matters  that  we  have  talked 
/  ,  |  about,  you  may  count  yourself  thoroughly  prepared 
^  C r  \  for  the  trader's  calling,  inasmuch  as  few  only  have  had 
I  more  instruction  in  these  subjects  than  you  have  had. 



Son.  I  should  indeed  consider  it  highly  informing,  if 
I  could  remember  all  the  things  that  you  have  now  told 
me.  I  gather  from  your  remarks,  however,  that  you 
seem  to  think  that  I  have  asked  about  too  many  things 
in  these  our  talks.  But  if  you  are  not  wearied  with  my 
questions,  there  still  remains  a  little  matter  which,  with 
your  permission,  I  should  like  to  ask  about,  one  that 
also  seems  to  belong  to  the  knowledge  of  seafarers. 

In  a  talk  some  time  ago  you  said  that  whoever  wishes 
(^  to  be  a  (merchant  ought  to  be  prepared  early  in  spring, 
J  and  be  careful  not  to  remain  out  at  sea  too  late  in  the 

*  Cf.  Capella,  Satiricon,  204. 


autumn;  but  you  did  not  indicate  the  earliest  time  in    / 
the  spring  when  you  think  one  may  risk  a  journey  over-    y 
seas  to  other  countries,  nor  how  late  you  consider  it     / 
safe  to  sail  the  seas  in  autumnjYou  told  how  the  ocean  / 
manages  to  quiet  its  storms,  but  you  did  not  show  un- 
der what  circumstances  it  begins  to  grow  restless.  There- 
fore  I  would  fain  ask  you  again  to  answer  this  question,  - 
even  if  it  does  annoy  you,  for  I  think  that  a  time  may 
come  when  it  will  seem  both  needful  to  know  this  and 
instructive  to  understand  it. 

Father.  The  matters  to  which  you  are  now  referring 
can  scarcely  be  grouped  under  one  head;  for  the  seas 
are  not  all  alike,  nor  are  they  all  of  equal  extent.  Small 
seas  have  no  great  perils,  and  one  may  risk  crossing 
them  at  almost  any  time;  for  one  has  to  make  sure  of 
fair  winds  to  last  a  day  or  two  only,  which  is  not  diffi- 
cult for  men  who  understand  the  weather.  And  there 
are  many  lands  where  harbors  are  plentiful  as  soon  as 
the  shore  is  reached.  If  the  circumstances  are  such  that 
a  man  can  wait  for  winds  in  a  good  haven  or  may  confi- 
dently expect  to  find  good  harbors  as  soon  as  he  has 
crossed,  or  if  the  sea  is  so  narrow  that  he  needs  to  pro- 
vide for  a  journey  of  only  a  day  or  two,  then  he  may  ven- 
ture to  sail  over  such  waters  almost  whenever  he  wishes. 
But  where  travel  is  beset  with  greater  perils,  whether 
because  the  sea  is  wide  and  full  of  dangerous  currents, 
or  because  the  prow  points  toward  shores  where  the 
harbors  are  rendered  insecure  by  rocks,  breakers,  shal- 
lows, or  sand  bars,  —  wherever  the  situation  is  such, 
one  needs  to  use  great  caution;  and  no  one  should  ven- 
ture to  travel  over  such  waters  when  the  season  is  late. 



Now  as  to  the  time  that  you  asked  about,  it  seems  to 
me  most  correct  to  say  that  one  should  hardly  venture 
over-seas  later  than  the  beginning  of  October.  For  at 
that  time  the  sea  begins  to  grow  very  restless,  and  the 
tempests  always  increase  in  violence  as  autumn  passes 
'and  winter  approaches. [And  about  the  time  when  we 
[date  thefsixteenth  of  Octoberjthe  east  wind  begins  to 
look  sorrowful  and  thinks  himself  disgraced,  now  that 
Ihis  headgear,  the  golden  crown,  is  taken  away.  He  puts 
a  cloud-covered  hat  on  his  head  and  breathes  heavily 
and  violently,  as  if  mourning  a  recent  loss.  But  when 
the  southeast  wind  sees  how  vexed  his  neighbor  is,  he 
is  stricken  with  a  double  grief:  the  one  sorrow  is  that 
he  fears  the  same  deprivation  as  the  east  wind  has  suf- 
fered; the  other  is  grief  over  the  misfortunes  of  his  good 
and  estimable  neighbor.  Stirred  by  the  distress  of  a  re- 
sentful mind,  he  knits  his  brows  under  the  hiding  clouds 
and  blows  the  froth  violently  about  him.  When  the  south 
wind  sees  the  wrath  of  his  near  neighbors,  he  wraps  him- 
self in  a  cloud-lined  mantle  in  which  he  conceals  his  treas- 
ures and  his  wealth  of  warm  rays  and  blows  vigorously  as 
if  in  terrifying  defence.  And  when  the  southwest  wind 
observes  how  friendship  has  cooled,  now  that  the  truce 
is  broken,  he  sobs  forth  his  soul's  grief  in  heavy  showers, 
rolls  his  eyes  above  his  tear-moistened  beard,  puffs  his 
cheeks  under  the  cloudy  helmet,  blows  the  chilling 
scud  violently  forward,  leads  forth  huge  billows,  wide- 
breasted  waves,  and  breakers  that  yearn  for  ships,  and 
orders  all  the  tempests  to  dash  forward  in  angry  contest. 

But  when  the  west  wind  observes  that  a  wrathful 
blast  and  a  sorrowful  sighing  are  coming  across  to  him 



from  the  east,  whence  formerly  he  was  accustomed  to 
receive  shining  beams  with  festive  gifts,  he  understands 
clearly  that  the  covenant  is  broken  and  that  all  treaties 
are  renounced.  Deeply  grieved  and  pained  because  of 
the  unpeace,  he  puts  on  a  black  robe  of  mourning  over 
which  he  pulls  a  cloud-gray  cloak,  and,  sitting  with 
wrinkled  nose  and  pouting  lips,  he  breathes  heavily  with 
regretful  care.  And  when  the  ill-tempered  northwest 
wind  observes  how  sorrowful  his  neighbors  look,  and 
sees  how  he  himself  has  suffered  the  loss  of  the  evening 
beauty  which  he  was  formerly  accustomed  to  display, 
he  shows  at  once  his  temper  in  stern  wrath :  he  knits  his 
brows  fiercely,  throws  rattling  hail  violently  about,  and 
sends  forth  the  rolling  thunder  with  terrifying  gleams 
of  lightning,  thus  displaying  on  his  part  a  fearful  and 
merciless  anger.  But  when  the  north  wind  misses  the 
friendliness  and  the  kind  gifts  which  he  was  wont  to  get 
from  the  south  wind,  he  seeks  out  his  hidden  treasures 
and  displays  the  wealth  that  he  has  most  of:  he  brings 
out  a  dim  sheen  which  glitters  with  frost,  places  an  ice- 
cold  helmet  on  his  head  above  his  frozen  beard,  and 
blows  hard  against  the  hail-bearing  cloud-heaps.  But 
the  chill  northeast  wind  sits  wrathful  with  snowy  beard 
and  breathes  coldly  through  his  wind-swollen  nostrils. 
Glaring  fiercely  under  his  rimy  brows,  he  wrinkles  his 
cheeks  beneath  his  cold  and  cloudy  temples,  puffs  his 
jowl  with  his  icy  tongue,  and  blows  the  piercing  drjft- 
snow  vigorously  forth. 

But  since  peace  has  been  broken  among  these  eight 
chiefs  and  the  winds  are  stirred  to  stormy  violence, 
it  is  no  longer  advisable  for  men  to  travel  over-seas"7 


from  shore  to  shore  because  of  great  perils:  the  days 
shorten;  the  nights  grow  darker;  the  sea  becomes  rest- 
less; the  waves  grow  stronger  and  the  surf  is  colder; 
showers  increase  and  storms  arise;  the  breakers  swell 
and  the  shores  refuse  good  harbors;  the  sailors  become 
exhausted,  the  lading  is  lost,  and  there  is  great  and  con- 
stant destruction  of  life  due  to  a  too  great  venturesome- 
ness;  souls  are  placed  in  perils  of  judgment  because  of 
recklessness  and  sudden  death.  Therefore  all  sensible 
men  should  beware  and  not  venture  upon  the  sea  too 
late  in  the  season;  for  there  are  many  dangers  to  look 
out  for  and  not  one  alone,  if  a  man  dares  too  much  at 
such  times.  Consequently,  the  better  plan  is  to  sail  while 
summer  is  at  its  best;  for  one  is  not  likely  to  meet  mis- 
fortune if  there  has  been  careful  and  wise  forethought. 
But  it  would  surely  pass  all  expectations  if  that  were 
to  succeed  which  was  foolishly  advised  and  planned  at 
e  beginning,  though  sometimes  the  outcome  may  be 
f  favorable.Q  consider  it  a  more  sensible  plan  for  a  man 
1  to  remain  quiet  as  long  as  much  danger  may  be  looked 
j  for,  and  to  enjoy  during  the  winter  in  proper  style  and 
(  in  restful  leisure  what  he  labored  to  win  during  the  sum- 
merjthan  to  risk  in  a  little  while  through  his  own  ob- 
stinate contriving  the  loss  of  all  the  profit  which  he 
strove  to  gain  in  the  summer.  But  first  of  all  a  man 
must  have  care  for  his  own  person;  for  he  can  have 
no  further  profit,  if  it  fares  so  ill  that  he  himself  goes 




Son.  I  did  wisely  to  continue  my  inquiries  when  we 
had  our  last  talk;  for  you  have  given  replies  which  will 
be  useful  as  well  as  instructive  for  all  who  have  the 
sense  to  understand  and  profit  by  such  matters  as  we 
have  discussed.  But  I  wish  to  ask  you  again  to  tell  me 
briefly  how  early  in  the  spring  and  at  what  stated  time 
you  think  one  may  venture  to  travel  over-seas  to  other  I 
shores,  just  as  I  asked  in  my  earlier  inquiries.  y 

Father.  [Men  may  venture  out  upon  almost  any  sea  J  f 
except  the  largest  as  early  as  the  beginning  of  April. 
For  at  the  time  when  we  date  the  sixteenth  of  March,J 
the  days  lengthen,  the  sun  rises  higher,  and  the  nights 
grow  shorter.  The  north  wind  gently  clears  up  the  face 
of  heaven  with  a  light  and  cool  breeze,  brushes  away 

the  restless  and  storm-laden  clouds,  and  j?vith  blithe  per-  -i         />  , 

suasiveness  asks  for  a  new  covenant.  Then  peace  is  re-  V 

newed  among  the  winds,  for  they  all  yearn  for  rest  after    \ 
the  season  of  violent  wrath  and  wearisome  blasts  fj  so  > 
they  make  a  covenant  once  more  in  the  way  that  we 
told  earlier  when  we  described  the  peace  making.  The 
showers  cease,  the  waves  sink  to  rest,  the  breakers  flag, 
the  swell  of  the  noisy  ocean  dies  away,  all  the  storms 
weaken,  and  quiet  follows  upon  restless  turmoil. 

Now  I  have  done  as  you  requested:  I  have  pointed 
out  the  seasons  with  definite  dates  both  in  spring  and 
fall,  when  it  seems  most  advisable  to  brave  the  perils' 
of  the  sea.  I  have  also  informed  you  as  to  the  times  that 


seem  more  suitable  for  rest  than  for  travel.  I  have  like- 
wise described  briefly  the  sources  of  light  in  the  sky  and 
the  belts  that  are  drawn  across  the  heaven,  those  under 
which  travel  is  difficult  and  those  which  allow  travel. 
And  if  you  keep  carefully  in  mind  all  these  things  that 
I  have  discussed  with  you,  you  will  never  be  counted 
among  the  ignorant  navigators,  if  you  shall  decide  to 
try  the  trader's  calling.  My  advice,  therefore,  is  first 
to  fix  in  your  mind  all  the  facts  which  you  have  now 
heard;  and  later  you  shall  have  a  chance  to  ask  further 
questions,  if  you  should  wish  to  do  so. 



Son.    The  last  time  that  I  had  a  talk  with  you,  sire, 
I  heard  a  wise  speech  from  your  lips,  one  that  should 
profit  every  man  who  intends  to  follow  the  craft  with 
which  our  conversation  was  concerned.  Since  then  I 
have  meditated  on  that  speech,  and  I  believe  that  I 
have  fixed  firmly  in  memory  most  of  the  facts  that  were 
brought  out  at  the  time,  whatever  luck  I  may  have  later 
in  trying  to  apply  them.  No  doubt  I  ought,  like  every- 
one else,  to  observe  carefully  all  the  good  which  I  have 
been  taught;  and  more  is  to  be  expected  from  those  who 
take  thought  than  from  those  who  forget.  But  whatever 
[success  or  good  fortune  I  may  have  in  the  practice,  I 
•'-delight  to  learn  while  I  have  the  opportunity.  Now  I 
^  *r        s^  nave  some  subjects  in  mind  which  I  wish  to  in- 
\V    ^          quire  about,  but[J  am  going  to  ask  your  consent  to  a 


discussion  before  I  bring  up  the  questions  in  which  I 
am  now  interested  j  and  when  I  have  presented  these, 
I  shall  await  your  answers. 

Father.  When  we  last  met  and  talked  about  the  do- 
ings and  mode  of  living  of  merchants,  we  mentioned, 
I  believe,  most  of  the  things  that  were  in  real  need  of 
discussion;  and  I  feel  sure  that  no  man  will  have  ill 
repute  from  his  conduct  who  everywhere  observes  with 
care  what  was  then  brought  out.  But  if  you  still  wish 
and  are  anxious  to  make  further  inquiries  into  these 
matters,  I  shall  be  glad  to  answer,  if  I  can.  And 

if  you  wish  to  open  another  discussion,  I  shall  also  be 

glad  to  answer,  as  far  as  I  have  knowledge.  You  have 
permission,  therefore,  to_askjust  asyoujike;  and  on 
my  side  there  shall  be  such  replies  as  God  enables  me 
to  give. 

Son.    The  talk  that  I  last  heard  you  give  concerning 
the  business  of  merchants  was  delivered  with  more  evi- 
dent wisdom  in  the  answers  than  in  the  questions;  and 
I  shall  now  let  that  subject  rest.  As  I  have  in  mind, 
with  your  permission,  to  try  that  business,  it  may  be 
that  a  very  long  time  will  pass  between  our  conversa- 
tions. And  when  I  am  far  away  from  you,  I  shall  have 
no  opportunity  to  seek  your  advice,  though  I  should 
wish  to  do  so,  in  case  my  mind  should  turn  to  some  craft 
or  business  other  than  that  of  the  merchant's  trade. 
But  though,  God  willing,  we  may  meet  again  in  good 
health,  it  seems  to  me  advisable  to  ask  about  those       v 
things  that  I  am  interested  in,  while  I  have  sure  op^Ay 
portunity  to  learn.  And  while  there  is  opportunity  we    ) 
should  learn  what  we  do  not  know,  for  this  reason  es-  / 


pecially,  that  we  cannot  be  sure  of  a  chance  to  inquire 
when  it  seems  most  needful  to  seek  knowledge.  Now 
after  having  learned  the  trader's  mode  of_  living  and 
how  to  travel  in  unknown  lands,  it  might  happen  that 
I  should  want  to  visit  the  king's  court,  where  I  could 
see  more  perfect  manners  than  thosejto  be  seen  on  my 
commercial  tours;  and  therefore  I  should  like  to  learn 
from  you,  while  here  at  home,lsuch  manners  as  are  most 
needful  to  know,  when  one  is  at  court^though  it  is  not 
sure  that  I  shall  have  to  use  them.  Now  if  such  an  in- 
terest does  not  seem  worthless  to  you,  I  should  like  to 
have  you  inform  me  as  to  those  customs  that  I  have 

Father.     It  cannot  be  called  worthless  curiosity  to 

wish  to  know  what  customs  prevail  and  must  be  ob- 

j** — ~  '^ -"  i 

.>  f  served  at  the  king's  court  ;lf  or  all  rnurt.esy  and  proper 
conduct  have  their  origin  there,  if  the  mode_qf  life  is 
^as  it  ought  to  V»ft  and  fts  it  was  ordained  of  old.MStilK 
customs  at  court  are  by  no  means  of  one  sort  only,  for 
there  isfa  multitude  of  services  and  offices  about  the 
kingjandfthose  of  his  men  who  are  less  in  rank  are  usu- 
ally  not  held  to  strict  manners.  Those  who  are  higher 
~*  /  in  the  service  often  differ  much  in  manners  and  deport- 

^  V  mentjso  that  the  men  who  observe  the  better  customs 
are,  unfortunately,  fewer,  as  a  rule,  than  those  who  are 
moderately  courteous,  or  scarcely  so  much.  Now  I  do 
not  know  whose  conduct  you  are  interested  in,  that  of 
the  more  mannerly  or  of  the  greater  number. 




Son.    It  would  be  most  profitable  both  for  me  and 
for  all  others  who  are  interested  in  unfamiliar  subjects, 
whether  good  breeding  or  other  knowledge,  to  learn 
what  is  best  and  most  useful.  For  there  are  but  few 
masters  who  can  teach  such  things,  and  they  are  all 
more  difficult  to  grasp  than  those  subjects  which  are  of 
but  slight  value  or  wholly  worthless.  Now  since  I  hear 
that  there  are  differences  both  in  the  duties  of  men  and 
in  the  customs  of  the  court,  I  shall  ask  you  to  inform 
me  as  to  the  regulations  there  and  to  explain  how  the 
services  differ  and  what  belongs  to  each;  also  to  point 
out  the  customs  which  seem  good  to  you  and  which  are 
surely  needful  to  learn,  if  one  wishes  to  serve  a  king 
with  honor,  as  well  as  those  which  one  who  wishes  to 
be  reputed  a  moral  man  should  shun  and  beware  of.  I 
have  this  reason,  too,  for  seeking  this  information  so 
earnestly,  that/J  have  seen  men  come  from  a  king's 
household,  whose  conduct  I  have  noted  carefully,  most  L 
of  whom  seemed  only  about  as  well  bred  as  those  who    j 
had  never  been  at  court,  or  even  less  than  theyJNowy 
I  do  not  know  which  is  the  more  likely,  whether  I  do 
not  understand  what  good  breeding  means,  or  that  the 
facts  are  as  they  seemed  to  me. 

Father.  If  it  should  be  your  fate  to  serve  at  court  and 
you  wish  to  be  called  courtly  and  polite,  you  will  need 
to  beware  of  what  happens  to  those  who  come  to  court 
without  manners  and  leave  without  refinement.  But 
since  you  have  asked  how  the  services  and  the  usages 



at  a  royal  court  differ,  I  shall  now  explain  that  to  you, 
and  also  show  why  some  return  thence  rude  and  un- 
polished. When  a  dull  man  fares  to  court,  it  is  as  when 
an  ignorant  fellow  travels  to  Jerusalem,  or  a  simpleton 
enters  a  good  school.  An  ignorant  man  who  has  been 
to  Jerusalem  believes  himself  well  informed  and  tells 
many  things  about  his  journey,  though  chiefly  what 
Aeems  worthless  to  a  knowing  man,  or  mere  sport  and 
I  foolery.  In  the  same  way  the  simpleton  who  comes  from 
(  school  believes  himself  to  be  perfectly  educated;  he 
V  struts  about  and  shows  great  disdain  whenever  he  meets 
\one  who  knows  nothing.  But  when  he  meets  one  who 
is  a  real  scholar,  he  himself  knows  naught.  So  it  is, 
too,  when  stupid  men  come  to  the  king's  court:  they 
promptly  seek  out  men  of  their  own  kind  and  learn 
from  them  such  things  as  are  most  easily  grasped  and 
into  which  they  had  gotten  some  insight  earlier;  but 
this  is  mere  folly  and  unwisdom.  And  when  they  return 
from  court,  they  will  display  such  manners  and  courtesy 
as  they  learned  there.  And  yet,  many  who  come  from 
strange  places,  whether  from  other  lands  or  courts,  will 
behave  in  this  way;  but  when  those  who  have  remained 
at  home  find  that  these  men  bring  great  tidings,  they 
come  to  regard  them  at  once  as  thoroughly  informed, 
both  as  to  customs  and  happenings,  seeing  that  they 

^ have  visited  alien  peoples  and  foreign  lands;  and  this 

is  most  often  the  case  with  dull  men.  Now  if  you  aim 
at  good  breeding,  beware  lest  you  fall  into  such  un- 
wisdom. We  may  now  take  up  the  question  how  the 
duties  of  the  men  at  court  differ  and  what  belongs  to 
each  service. 


the  men  who  have  gone  to  the  king's  hand  *  are 
housecarles  Jbut  honors  and  authority  \are  distributed 
among  them  according  to  the  merits  of  each  and  as  the 
king  wishes  to  grant.)[Thus  one  class  of  housecarles  is 
made  up  of  men  who  are  always  present  at  court,  but 
draw  no  wages,  and  do  not  eat  and  drink  where  thejiird- 
men  take  their  meals.  They  have  to  do  such  service  in 
the  king's  garth  as  the  steward  shall  assign,  whether  it 
be  to  go  on  a  journey  or  to  do  manual  labor  in  the  garth.] 



Son.  I  pray  you,  sire,  not  to  regard  me  as  thoughtless 
or  as  wishing  to  interrupt  your  discourse,  if  I  inquire 
briefly  about  the  duties  of  these  men. 

Father.  While  we  are  on  this  subject,  you  had  better 
ask  what  you  like,  or  you  may  regret  it  later,  having 
come  away  ill  informed  about  what  you  wanted  to  hear, 
because  you  did  not  inquire  sufficiently. 

Son.  Since  those  whom  you  have  just  mentioned  live 
by  labor  and  manual  toil  in  the  king's  garth  and  have 
no  greater  honors  than  at  home  in  the  country,  what 
advantage  do  they  find  in  being  with  the  king  more 
than  in  serving  their  parents  or  kinsmen  in  the  country 
or  engaging  in  trade  and  winning  wealth  in  that  way  ? 

Father.  There  are  many  reasons  why  such  men  would 
rather  be  at  court  than  live  in  the  country  or  engage  in 

*  To  go  to  the  king's  hand  (ganga  konungi  til  handa)  is  the  technical  term  for 
the  formal  initiation  into  the  royal  service.  "  The  king  was  in  his  high-seat 
with  his  guard  grouped  about  him;  across  his  knees  lay  a  sword,  his  right 


trade  {Some  prefer  being  at  court  to  living  in  the  coun- 
try (though  in  the  king's  service  thetr  labor  is  as  bur- 
densome, or  more  so)  because,  though  they  are  of  excel- 
lent kinship,  they  have  little  wealth  and  cannot  engage 
in  trade  on  account  of  their  poverty  .Jlf  they  take  up 
work  in  the  country,  they  find  many  who  have  more 
wealth,  though  they  are  no  higher  in  kinship,  or  scarcely 
so  high.^And  when  quarrels  arise,  the  rich  find  protec- 

-<  tion  in  their  wealth  and  thrust  the  poor  aside,  so  that 

C  these  can  get  no  justice  in  their  law  suitsj  Consequently 
Jfeikz^'  such  men  think  it  better  to  toil  in  security  at  court  than 
*£(  without  protection  in  the  country.  (Others  may  have 

J  committed  manslaughter  or  have  come  into  other  diffi- 
"  /  culties  which  make  it  urgent  for  them  to  seek  security 

L  in  the  king's  powerJSome  there  are,  too,  who  always 
find  pleasure  in  being  in  a  throng;  they  also  feel  more 
secure  there,  whatever  may  happen.  When  these  come 
back  to  the  country  where  earlier  they  seemed  so  utterly 
defenseless,  they  regard  themselves  as  the  peers  of  every 
one,  because  of  the  protection  which  they  enjoy  as  kings- 
men  .[if  one  of  them  is  slain  in  single  combat,  the  king 
will  take  forty  marks  *  in  thegn  money  \  for  him  as  for 

hand  grasping  the  hilt.  The  candidate  approached,  knelt,  touched  the  sword- 
hilt,  and  kissed  the  royal  hand.  He  then  arose  and  took  the  oath  of  fealty.  ^ 
Kneeling  once  more  he  placed  his  folded  hands  between  those  of  the  king  and 
kissed  his  new  lord."  Larson,  "  The  Household  of  the  Norwegian  Kings  in  the 
Thirteenth  Century:"  American  Historical  Review,  XIII,  461. 
*  The  mark  as  a  standard  of  value  was  widely  used  in  the  middle  ages.  Origi- 
nally it  was  a  measure  of  weight  equivalent  to  eight  ounces  of  gold  or  silver. 
Its  value  varied  at  different  times  and  in  different  places.  Dr.  Gjerset  esti- 
mates the  purchasing  power  of  a  mark  of  silver  in  the  fourteenth  century  as 
equal  to  that  of  $80  at  the  present  time.  History  of  the  Norwegian  People,  II, 
18-19,  note. 

t  Thegn  money  (]>egngildi)  was  a  fine  paid  to  the  king  by  one  who  had  been 
guilty  of  manslaughter. 



his  other  thegns,  and,  in  addition,  one  mark  gold  asf 
housecarle  fine,*  which  he  exacts  whenever  a  housecarle  1 
is  slain  7j 

You  shall  also  know  that/many  come  to  court  fronT^ 
the  country  who  were  considered  of  little  consequence  / 
there;  and  yet,  it  often  happens  that  the  king  gives  high  C* 
honors  to  such  men  in  return  for  their  servicefjif  they  J 
perform  it  well,  though  they  are  but  slightly  honored  in 
their  own  homes.  Those,  on  the  other  hand,  whom  the 
cotters  in  the  country  seemed  to  value  highly  for  their 
wealth,  kindred,  and  fellowship,  are  often  no  more  re- 
garded at  the  royal  court  than  in  their  home  commu- 
nities and  sometimes  even  less.  Indeed,  those  who  come 
to  the  king  with  riches  are  often  honored  less  than  those 
who  come  in  poverty.  [Frequently,  men  who  come  to 
court  with  little  wealth  or  none  at  all  and  have  no  choice 
but  to  accept  what  the  king  graciously  offers  are  set  so 
high  in  riches  and  power  that  they  tower  above  their 
kinsmen,  though  before  they  came  to  the  king  they  were 
not  regarded  as  their  equalsjThey  win  this  either  by 
bravery  in  warfare  and  good  deportment  at  court,  or  by 
being  faithful  to  the  king  in  all  things  and  striving  to  be 
discreet  and  loving  toward  himlJFor  the  king  helps  and 
promotes  those  whom  he  finds  to  be  anxious  to  remain 
truly  affectionate  toward  him  and  to  serve  him  in  loyal 
friendship.  For  these  reasons  asking  by  an  act  of  grace."? 
will  very  often  exalt  those  who  are  lacking  in  riches  ;JT 
and  therefore  many  such  are  encouraged  to  seek  service 
at  court,  where  they  all  expect  to  win  rewards,  high 
honors,  and  marked  advancement  in  position. 

*  The  housecarle  fine  was  higher  than  that  exacted  for  the  death  of  a  common  ~1    fc*.   ^ 
subject  because  the  housecarle  stood  in  a  personal  relation  to  the  king.          J 




Son.  I  believe  I  have  now  had  correct  and  adequate 
answers,  and  it  no  longer  seems  strange  to  me  that  such 
men  as  you  have  just  talked  about  would  rather  be 
kingsmen  than  remain  in  the  country,  even  though  their 
duties  are  as  toilsome  as  those  of  the  farmer,  or  even 
more  so.  But  now  I  wish  to  ask  you  to  describe  the  other 
services  at  the  king's  court,  so  that  I  may,  if  possible, 
gain  some  knowledge  of  every  one  of  them. 

Father.   That  is  surely  possible,  and  since  you  are  in- 
terested in  such  matters,  I  shall  give  you  what  informa- 
tion I  have  concerning  them.  There  are  certain  other 
housecarles  at  the  king's  court,  who,  in  addition  to 
the  housecarle's  title,  have  a  by-name  and  are  called 
|   /""  gests."  ^  They  have  this  name  from  their  manifold 
1      duties;  for  they  visit  the  homes  of  many,  though  not 
1     always  with  friendly  intent  £  These  men  are  also  in  the 
king's  pay  and  get  half  the  wages  of  "  hirdmen.'J]  These 
1    are  the  duties  that  belong  to  the  office  of  these  menfthey 
serve  as  spies  throughout  the  king's  domain  to  make 
•  /  &i,~t*\   sure  whether  he  has  any  enemies  in  his  kingdom;]  and 
I  if  such  are  found/jtne  gests  are  to  slay  themjjif  they  are 
(,**  1\          \  able  to  do  so.£But  if  the  king  sends  his  gests  upon  his 
5«^  ^  ~£0     1  enemies  and  those  against  whom  they  are  sent  are  slain, 
f    //  fa  f    I  they  are  to  have  for  their  trouble  as  much  of  the  ene- 
l  mies'  wealth  as  they  can  carry  away  at  the  time,  only 
/  no  gold,  for  that  is  the  king's,  as  is  all  the  rest  that  the 
/  gests  are  unable  to  bring  away.  And  whenever  the  king 

*  See  American  Historical  Review,  XIII,  469-471. 


becomes  aware  of  an  enemy,  it  is  the  gest's  duty  to 
pursue  the  foeman  and  thus  to  cleanse  the  realm.  When- 
ever they  are  present  at  court,  they  keep  the  various 
watches  about  the  king,  just  as  the  others  do  who  share 
the  king's  bounty  in  the  royal  garth,  except  the  head- 
ward;  *  this  they  do  not  keep;  nor  do  they  sit  at  table 
to  eat  or  drink  in  the  house  where  the  king  dines  with 
his  hirdmen,  except  at  Christmas  and  Easter,  when  they 
are  to  eat  with  the  hirdmen  in  the  king's  hall,  but  at  no 
other  time.  If  any  of  these  men  be  slain  in  single  com- 
bat, the  king  exacts  as  large  a  fine  both  in  thegn  money 
and  housecarle  fine  as  for  the  death  of  those  whom  we 
discussed  earlier. 

There  is  still  another  class  of  royal  housecarles  who 
do  not  share  the  king's  tables  and  but  rarely  come  to 
court;  these  receive  nothing  from  the  king  but  protec- 
tion and  support  in  securing  justice  from  others;  but 
these,  too,  are  kingsmen.  In  case  any  of  these  are  slain, 
the  king  exacts  the  same  housecarle  fine  in  addition  to 
the  thegn  money  as  in  the  case  of  those  housecarles  who 
dine  at  his  tables.  These  men  come  into  his  service  from 
various  walks  of  life:  some  are  peasants,  some  mer- 
chants, and  some  laymen.  But  this  service  they  owe  the 
king  before  all  his  other  subjects,  namely,  that  wherever 
the  king's  officials  come  at  his  command  to  present  the 
king's  causes  or  business,  and  these  housecarles  of  whom 
we  are  speaking  are  present,  they  must Join  tbe  retinue 
of  these  officials  and  render  such  assistance  as  they  cnn 
in  all  the  king's  business.  These,  too,  may  claim  support 

*  The  head-ward  was  stationed  near  the  king's  person,  usually  outside  the 
door  of  the  chamber  where  he  slept.  See  American  Historical  Review,  XIII, 



from  the  kingsmen  in  their  efforts  to  obtain  justice, 
wherever  they  have  suits  to  bring  up.  Likewise  if  any 
of  these  men  are  slain,  the  fines  due  the  king  will  be 
increased  as  much  as  for  those  whom  we  spoke  of 

There  is  another  class  of  royal  housecarles  who  re- 
ceive money  payments  from  the  king,  some  twelve 
aura?  some  two  marks,  some  three  marks,  and  others 
more,  in  proportion  as  the  king  finds  them  likely  to  add 


to  his  strength  and  credit  IThese  men  do  not  dine  with 
\  the  king  at  court;  they  are  abroad  in  the  realm  in  a  sort 
)  of ^official  capacity,  for  some  of  them  are  sons  of  the 
L  king's  landedmen,fj while  others  are  peasants,  though 
so  wealthy  that  they  seem  to  rank  with  the  landedmen. 
These  royal  housecarles  owe  the  king  the  same  kind  of 
service  as  those  whom  we  have  just  mentioned,  but 
more,  inasmuch  as  they  haye  greater  prestige  and_en- 
joy  greater  favors  from  the  kin^;  and  the  fines  due  the 
king  in  case  these  men  are  ill  used  will  be  increased 
about  as  much  as  has  been  stated  before.  From  all  these 
kingsmen  that  we  have  now  told  about,  who  do  not  dine 
at  his  tables,  the  king  may  demand  such  service  as  he 
finds  each  capable  of:  some  are  called  to  pilot  the  long- 
ships  when  the  king  sets  out  on  a  naval  campaign;  some 
are  sent  abroad  in  embassies  to  foreign  rulers  and  other 
princes;  while  others  are  sent  out  upon  the  sea  as  traders 

*  The  Eyrir  (pi.  aura,  from  Latin  aurum  ?)  was  an  ounce  of  silver,  or  one- 
eighth  of  a  mark. 

f  The  landedman  (lendir  raaoV)  was  one  who  enjoyed  a  fief  granted  by  the 
king.  The  term  was  also  used  in  a  more  restricted  sense  for  the  local  chieftains 
who  in  return  for  the  fief  enjoyed  gave  certain  assistance  in  the  local  admin- 
istration. See  N&rges  Gamle  Love,  V,  396-397;  Gjerset,  History  of  the  Nor- 
wegian People,  I,  387-388;  American  Historical  Review,  XIII,  467-468. 



with  the  king's  wares  or  ships.  *JThese  are  the  duties  s 
that  they  are  bound  to  perform  with  such  other  duties 
as  may  arise  out  of  the  king's  needs. 

Now  I  have  told  you  about  several  classes  of  the 
king's  servants,  and  you  will  have  to  determine  which 
of  those  enumerated  seem  to  you  most  likely  to  know 
much  about  courtly  behavior  and  the  manners  that 
ought  by  right  to  be  found  at  a  king's  court;  they  are 
all  kingsmen,  however.  And  from  this  you  will  observe 
that  every  man  cannot  become  perfect  in  all  courtly 
customs  and  manners  just  as  soon  as  he  sees  the  king 
and  his  men;  for  a  man  will  have  to  be  both  quick^-i 
witted  and  quick  to  learn,  who,  if  he  lacks  in  breeding,  I 
is  to  learn  perfect  courtliness  in  a  year's  time,  even  K* 
though  every  day  of  the  year  is  spent  at  court  among-' 
the  hirdmen  in  the  king's  own  presence.  Now  you  shalH 
know  this  of  a  truth,  that  there  are  many  at  court  who( 
have  spent  a  large  part  of  their  lives  there  and  have\, 
daily  opportunities  to  see  good  deportment,  and  yet    1  c^ 
they  never  become  either  courtly  or  well-bred. 

^  Jfa 



<Son.  If  such  is  the  case,  that  some  of  the  customs  at 
court  are  so  difficult  to  learn  that  both  quick  wit  and 
continued  observation  are  necessary,  it  seems  evident 
that  the  men  whom  you  have  just  now  spoken  of  can 

*  The  kings  of  medieval  Norway  seem  to  have  engaged  quite  actively  in  the 
mercantile  profession.  The  trade  with  the  Finns  was  made  a  royal  monopoly 
at  least  as  early  as  the  tenth  century;  later  the  trade  with  Greenland  also 
passed  into  the  king's  hands. 


have  but  slight  knowledge  of  what  constitutes  deport- 
ment or  good  manners  in  the  king's  house,  though  they 
be  kingsmen,  since  they  come  but  rarely  into  those  of 
the  royal  apartments  where  good  manners  must  espe- 
cially be  observed.  But  there  is  yet  something  that  I 
am  anxious  to  know  concerning  the  duties  of  those  men 
of  whom  you  spoke  last:  what  profit  can  such  men  as 
have  an  abundance  of  wealth  and  kinsmen  find  in  the 
king's  service  and  in  binding  themselves  to  his  service 
with  the  housecarle  name  as  their  only  title  ?  Why  do 
not  they  rather  seek  the  honor  of  being  called  hirdmen, 
or  remain  at  home  looking  after  their  property  as  other 
husbandmen  do  ? 

Father.  I  should  say  that  you  have  not  inquired  very 
wisely  into  this  matter;  still,  as  you  do  not  appear  to  be 
well  informed  on  this  subject,  I  think  it  better  for  you 
to  question  than  to  remain  ignorant,  and  since  you  have 
inquired  I  ought  to  answer.  There  are  many  reasons,  as 
we  have  already  said,  why  men  would  rather  be  kings- 
men  than  be  called  by  the  peasant's  name  only.  The 
first  reply  must  be  that/the  king  owns  the  entire  king- 
dom as  well  as  all  the  people  in  it,  so  that  all  the  men 
X..  who  are  in  his  kingdom  owe  him  service  whenever  his 
V^needs  demand  itjTThus  the  king  has  a  right  to  call  upon 
every  freeman,  who  seems  fitted  for  it  or  is  found  to 
possess  suitable  insight,  to  serve  in  embassies  to  foreign 
lords ;  likewise,  when  the  king  calls  upon  the  freemen  to 
pilot  his  ship  in  warfare,  each  one  who  is  appointed  must 
attend,  though  he  be  the  king's  henchman  only  so  far 
as  he  is  his  subject./Even  if  a  king  should  order  a  clerk 
or  a  bishopjof  his  kingdom  to  fare  as  envoy  to  another 


king  or  to  the  pope,  if  such  is  his  wish,  the  one  who  is    x 
called  must  set  out,  unless  he  is  willing  to  risk  the  king's  f 
enmity  and  to  be  driven  from  the  kingdom^ 

Now  since  all  the  men  of  the  realm  are  thus  bound  to  ' 
the  royal  service,£why  should  not  every  sensible  man"")       s 
regard  it  a  greater  advantage  to  be  in  the  king's  full  I 
protection  and  friendship,  no  matter  what  may  happen    V-    <*c 
in  his  intercourse  with  other  men,  and  to  be  superior  to    / 
his  comrades  and  hold  them  loyal  to  the  king  if  they    \ 
will  not  otherwise  obey/Jthan  to  be  failed  a  mere  cotter    J 
who  is  constantly  under  the  control  of  others,  though 
he  still  owes  nearly  the  same  duties  as  otherwise  ?  Verily 
you  must  know  that  to  be  called  a  king's  housecarle  is 
not  to  be  despised  as  a  title  of  derision ;  but  it  is  a  name 
of  great  honor  to  everyone  who  bears  it.  For  neither^ 
landedmen  nor  hirdmen,  though  because  of  some  in- 
firmity or  because  they  are  tired  of  warfare  they  prefer 
to  cultivate  an  estate  in  the  country,  are  willing  to  sur- 
render the  housecarle  name  because  of  its  honor  and 
security.  Now  if  there  is  any  phase  of  this  subject  that 
seems  insufficiently  inquired  into  or  explained,  we  may 
extend  the  conversation  if  you  wish. 



Sow.  This  subject  has  been  discussed  almost  too  fully 
and  has  been  cleared  up  for  me  with  such  good  and  com- 
plete answers  that  it  looks  to  me  as  if  a  man  cannot  dis- 
pense with  the  king's  support,  if  he  wishes  to  found  his 
cause  securely.  For  the  multitude  is  fickle-minded  and 


the  one  unfair  toward  the  other,  except  those  alone  to 
A      /"whom  God  has  given  wisdom  and  rectitude;  but  they 
w       (^are  few  only  and  not  the  mass.  However,  as  there  are 
certain  matters  relating  to  the  service  and  manners  at 
court  that  are  still  unexplained,  I  should  like  to  hear 
you  discuss  these  further,  lest  I  continue  ignorant  about 
subjects  that  I  desire  to  know. 

Father.  We  must  now  speak  about  those  of  the  king's 
housecarles  who,  if  they  give  proper  attention,  are  best 
able  to  acquire  knowledge  as  to  what  is  counted  good 
manners  in  royal  circles.  They  too,  however,  differ  in 
character,  and  those  are  very  often  the  fewer  who  should 
be  the  more  numerous.  These  kingsmen  that  we  are  now 
to  discuss  have,  in  addition  to  the  housecarle  name,  the 
title  of  hirdmen.  Some  bear  that  title  rightfully,  but  to 
many  it  is  a  nickname.  The  one  who  originated  the 
-^name  placed  it  on  a  sound  basis  ;[for  hirdman  means  the 
same  as  keeper  and  guardian^  and  those  who  wish  to 
possess  this  title  rightfully  should  be  true  keepers  and 
guardians  both  of  the  king's  person  and  of  all  his  king- 
ship. They  should  guard  the  bounds  of  equity  among  all 
the  men  of  the  realm,  wherever  they  are  present  when 
suits  at  law  are  heard.  They  should  also  observe  good 
and  courtly  behavior  and  every  useful  custom,  for  they 
are  at  all  times  nearest  the  king  in  all  matters.  They 
guard  the  king's  life  and  person  both  night  and  day; 
they  are  always  about  the  king  at  the  table  when  he 
eats  and  drinks,  at  public  assemblies,  and  at  all  general 
gatherings,  like  near  kinsmen. 

These  men  ought  of  right  to  be  addressed  as  lords  by 
all  men  who  bear  lesser  titles  than  they  do;  for  they  are, 


in  a  sense,  stewards  of  the  realm,  if  they  observe  the 
customs  that  are  suited  to  their  title^They  should  be 
chosen  from  all  classes  and  not  from  wealthy  or  dis- 
tinguished families  only;]but  those  who  are  chosen  to 
this  dignity  should  be  perfect  in  all  things,  both  in  an- 
cestry and  wealth,  and  in  nobility  of  mind  and  courtesy, 
but  above  all  in  conduct.  They  ought,  furthermore,  be- 
fore all  others  to  observe  righteousness  in  every  form, 
so  that  they  may  be  able  to  discern  clearly  what  should 
be  loved  as  belonging  to  honor  and  good  deportment  I 
and  what  should  be  shunned  as  leading  to  dishonor  ano/  / 
shamejFor  wherever  they  are  present,  the  eyes  of  all 
men  are  turned  upon  their  manners  and  behavior;  all 
incline  their  ears  to  their  words;  and  all  expect,  as  they 
ought,  to  find  them  so  much  more  excellent  than  other 
men  in  deeds  and  deportment  as  they  stand  nearer  the 
king  in  service  and  regard  than  his  other  men.  And  if 
these  men  wish  by  right  to  enjoy  the  titles  which  are 
given  them  along  with  the  housecarle  name,  they  must 
shun  vii1ftfl.n'ty  pnr|  ri]ffcnpgg;  they  must  also,  more  than 
other  men,  avoid  many  things  which  a  foolish^  desire 
might  suggest.  For  many  things  become  a  disgrace  both 
in  words  and  deeds  to  well-bred  men,  which  are  not  a 
disgrace  to  the  vulgar  who  behave  in  that  way;  where- 
fore such  men  must  keep  watch  over  their  tongues  and 
their  behavior. 

It  also  frequently  happens  that  well  trained  envoys 
from  other  lands  come  to  visit  the  king  and  his  court; 
and  the  more  polished  they  arelthe  more  carefully  they 
observe  the  royal  service  as  well  as  the  manners  of  the 
king  and  his  courtiers  and  all  the  customs  that  prevail 


at  the  courtjvOn  returning  to  their  own  lands,  they  will 
describe  the  customs  and  relate  the  happenings  which 
they  saw  or  heard  at  the  court  to  which  they  were  sentj 
But_all  the  rumors^  that  travel  to  other  lands  and  are 
circulated  about  a  lord,  if  they  be  truthful,  will  usually 
either  bring  him  ridicule  and  contumely  or  be  turned  to 

Jn's  h£LQ£L!Ii^  ™ay  also  frequently  come  to  pass  that  the 
kings  themselves  need  to  meet  in  conference  to  discuss 
such  rules  and  arrangements  as  must  be  kept  jointly  by 
(^the  kingdoms.  *MVherever  kings  meet,  there  the  best 
5  men  are  always  assembled  ;}  for  the  kings  bring  their 
chief  men  with  them  to  such  conferences:  archbishops, 
bishops,   earls,   landedmen,   and  hirdmen   or   knights. 
And  the  conduct  and  breeding  of  those  who  assemble 
are  carefully  noted,  first  the  manners  of  the  mighty  ones, 
/*  and  then  those  of  all  the  rest^for  everyone  watches 
?  closely  the  behavior  of  all  the  othersV^Lnd  if  one  of  the 
kings  or  one  of  his  principal  men  is  round  indecorous, 
he  soon  becomes  the  subject  of  ridicule  and  contempt 
and  is  regarded  as  a  common  churl£  And  if  a  king's  ret- 
inue is  found  to  be  poorly  trained  and  is  lacking  in 
polish,  especially  if  the  service  of  the  king's  apartments 
is  not  performed  in  a  comely  and  proper  manner,  then 
the  king  himself  is  pronounced  unfit^for  it  will  be  held 
that  if  he  himself  were  polite  and  perfect  in  manners, 
all  would  acquire  good  breeding  from  him.  Cpnsegfuenlly 
it^is  possible  for  a  courtly  chief  to  suffer  great  shame 
amHncIecent  man;  wherefore  it  is  very 

*  Such  meetings  of  two  or  three  of  the  kings  of  the  North  were  occasionally 
held  all  through  the  later  middle  ages.  The  conferences  were  often  held  at 
some  point  near  the  mouth  of  the  Gb'ta  River,  on  the  southwest  coast  of 
modern  Sweden.  See  above,  p.  30. 


important  that  those  who  wish  to  bear  a  comely  and 
honorable  title  in  the  royal  presence  should  be  well  in- 
formed as  to  what  is  becoming  or  unbecoming.  For  one 
cannot  hope  for  great  honors  from  a  king,  if  he  has  at 
any  time  disgraced  him  where  many  honorable  men 
were  assembled  and  where  it  seemed  very  important  to 
maintain  the  king's  honor,  which  is  every  where,  3or  a  7 
king  must  nowhere  suffer  shame  .jHeedlessness  and  evil  j 
conduct  are  therefore  ill  becoming  to  a  man,  if  they 
bring  him  shame  and  enmity  and  cause  him  to  lose  his 
honorable  name,  his  good  repute,  and  his  fair  service, 
even  though  life  and  limb  be  spared.  And  he  can  even 
bring  such  deep  dishonor  upon  his  king  that  with  many 
of  his  kindred  he  will  be  made  to  suffer  a  well  deserved 
but  ignominious  death.  Such  grades  there  are  both  in 
the  duties  and  in  the  titles  at  the  royal  court  as  you 
have  now  heard  described.  But  if  it  seems  to  you  that 
V  everything  has  not  yet  been  thoroughly  examined,  you 
may  inquire  further,  if  you  like. 





Son.  It  seems  to  me  that  we  should  not  fail  to  con- 
tinue this  discussion  and  I  shall  now  direct  my  remarks 
and  questions  toward  some  theme  that  may  help  me  to 
see  more  clearly  how  one,  who  comes  to  seek  honors, 
should  appear  in  the  king's  presence  and  how  he  must 
afterwards  demean  himself  in  order  to  attain  all  those 


distinctions  of  which  you  have  just  told.  Now  it  may 
happen  that  I  shall  want  to  fare  to  court  and  join  the 
king's  service;  for  since  £my  father  and  my  kinsmen 
served  the  king  before  me  and  gained  honor  and  high 
esteem  for  their  service,  it  is  likely  that  I  shall  wish  to 
do  what  my  kinsmen  achieved  before  me.?  Now  inas- 
much as  that  is  likely,  I  want  to  ask  you  to  tell  me  how 
I  ought  to  begin  my  speech  when  I  come  to  seek  audi- 
ence with  a  king.  State  it  as  clearly  as  if  you  were  to 
accompany  me  to  the  royal  presence,  and  inform  me  as 
to  my  gestures,  my  dress,  my  manner  of  speech  and  all 
matters  of  deportment  that  are  becoming  in  the  king's 
company.  Now  this  time  I  have  asked  as  I  thought  best; 
but  even  though  I  have  inquired  less  wisely  than  I 
ought,  kindly  do  as  before,  giving  thought  to  the  ques- 
tions on  my  part  and  to  the  replies  from  your  side. 

Father.  Your  questions  on  this  subject  are  not  so  un- 
wise that  one  may  not  very  well  answer  them;  for  many 
have  need  to  make  such  inquiries,  if  they  mean  to  have 
their  suits  brought  up  before  lords  and  to  have  them 
planned  as  carefully  as  need  be.  Now  I  shall  try  to  clear 
up  these  matters  that  you  have  asked  about,  stating 
what  seems  most  truthful  and  advisable.  When  you 
come,  then,  to  where  the  king  resides,  intending  to  be- 
come his  man  jl  you  should  inquire  carefully  who  the 
men  are  in  the  king's  company  that  are  best  able  to 
present  men's  business  to  the  king  in  such  a  way  that 
their  speeches  please  him  the  most^As  soon  as  you  have 
learned  who  they  are,  you  must  first  make  their  ac- 
/  A  quaintance  and  cultivate  their  friendship;  after  that 
\\make  your  errand  known  and  ask  them  to  undertake 



your  suit.  If  they  undertake  your  business,  they  can 
best  find  time  and  occasion  for  audience  and  speech 
with  the  king,  as  they  often  have  speech  with  him/If  O 
you  are  to  present  your  request  at  a  time  when  the  king  f      r  y 
is  at  the  table,  get  sure  information  whether  he  is  in  7*  , 

good  spirits  and  pleasant  humor?! If  you  should  observe/ 
that  his  disposition  is  somewhat  irritable,  or  that  he  is 
displeased  about  something,  or  that  he  has  such  im- 
portant affairs  to  consider  that  you  think  your  business 
for  that  reason  cannot  be  taken  up,  then  let  your  suit 
rest  for  the  time  being  and  seek  to  find  the  king  in  better 
humor  some  other  day.  But  if  you  find  that  he  is  in 
merry  mood  and  has  no  business  to  take  up  of  such 
importance  that  you  may  not  very  well  state  your 
errand/  wait,  nevertheless,  till  he  has  nearly  finished 
his  meaLy 

Your  costume  you  should  plan  beforehand  in  such  a 
way  that  you  come  fully  dressed  in  good  apparel,  the 
smartest  that  you  have,  and  wearing  fine  trousers  and 
shoes.  You  must  not  come  without  your  coat;  and  also 
wear  a  mantle,  the  best  that  you  have.  For  trousers 
always  select  cloth  of  a  brown  dye.  It  seems  quite  proper 
also  to  wear  trousers  of  black  fur,  but  not  of  any  other 
sort  of  cloth,  unless  it  be  scarlet.  Your  coat  should  be 
of  brown  color  or  green  or  red,  and  all  such  clothes  are 
good  and  proper.  Your  linen  should  be  made  of  good 
linen  stuff,  but  with  little  cloth  used;  your  shirt  should 
be  short,  and  all  your  linen  rather  light.  Your  shirt 
should  be  cut  somewhat  shorter  than  your  coat;  for  no 
man  of  taste  can  deck  himself  out  in  flax  or  hemp.  Be- 
fore you  enter  the  royal  presence  be  sure  to  have  your 


hair  and  beard  carefully  trimmed  according  to  the  fash- 
ions of  the  court  when  you  join  the  same.  When  I  was 
at  court  it  was  fashionable  to  have  the  hair  trimmed 
short  just  above  the  earlaps  and  then  combed  down  as 
each  hair  would  naturally  lie;  but  later  it  was  cut  shorter 
in  front  above  the  eyebrows.  It  was  the  style  at  that 
f*l^  r  time  to  wear  a  short  beard  and  a  small  moustache ;(but 

&»'t  *         )  later  the  cheeks  were  shaved  according  to  the  German 

2   S 

c«^  A**5       ]    mode;  *  and  I  doubt  that  any  style  will  ever  come  which 
/     is  more  becoming  or  more  suitable  in  warfare.  ^J 

Now  when  you  seem  to  be  in  proper  state  to  appear 
before  the  king  both  as  to  dress  and  other  matters,  and 
-if  you  come  at  a  suitable  time  and  have  permission  from 
the  doorkeeper  to  enter,  you  must  have  your^pming^ 
planned  in  such  a  way  that  some  capable  servant  can 
accompany  you.  But  though  you  are  both  allowed  to 
enter,  do  not  let  him  follow  you  farther  than  inside  the 
door  or,  at  the  farthest,  up  to  the  staller's  seat,  and 
^"^         Cleave  him  there  to  keep  your  mantleQLeave  your  mantle 
j  behind  when  you  go  before  the  king  and  be  careful  to 
J  have  your  hair  brushed  smooth,  and  your  beard  combed 
/    with  care.  You  must  have  neither  hat  nor  cap  nor  other 
covering  on  your  head;  for  one  must  appear  before  lords 
1     with  uncovered  head  and  ungloved  hands,  with  a  blithe 
V  face  and  with  limbs  and  body  thoroughly  bathedL/You 
should  also  have  the  men  with  you  who  are  to  jpresent 
your  suit.  Form  the  habit  of  holding  your  head  up  and 
your  whole  body  erect  when  walking;  strike  a  dignified 
gait,  but  do  not  walk  too  slowly. 

*  It  is  impossible  to  determine  what  style  of  beard  this  jaftarskegg  was;  if  we 
may  judge  from  contemporary  German  illustrations,  the  German  mode  was 
a  smooth-shaven  face.  See  also  Weiss,  Kostumekunde,  II,  581. 


When  you  come  into  the  king's  presence,  bow  humbly 
before  him  and  address  him  in  these  words:  "  God  give 
you  a  good  day,  my  lord  king  !  "  If  the  king  is  at  the_ 
table  when  you  appear  before  him,  be  careful  not  to 
lean  against  the  king's  board,  as  so  many  a  sim 
does;  and  above  all  do  not  lean  forward  across 
mannerly  churls  do,  but  remain  standing  far  enough 
away  from  it  so  that  the  service  belonging  to  the  royal 
table  may  have  sufficient  Space  to  pass  between  the 
table  and  yourself.  But  if  the  king  is  not  at  the  table, 
approach  his  seat  only  so  near  as  to  leave  abundant 
space  for  all  the  service  between  yourself  and  the  foot- 
stools that  are  before  the  king's  seat.  When  standing 
before  the  king,  you  should  dispose  of  your  hands  in 
such  a  way  that  the  thumb  and  forefinger  of  the  right  -^ 
will  grasp  the  left  wrist;  and  then  let  your  hands  drop  j 
slowly  before  you  as  seems  most  comfortable.  There- 
upon the  men  chosen  for  that  purpose  shall  present 
your  errand  to  the  king.  And  if  fortune  allows  your  suit 
to  prosper  immediately  according  to  your  wishes,  you 
shall  go  to  the  king's  hand  and  thereafter  enter  the 
fellowship  of  the  hird  according  to  the  customs  which 
those  who  plead  your  case  will  teach  you.  But  if  the 
king  makes  promise  and  fixes  a  day  when  you  are  to 
appear  and  the  matter  is  to  be  settled,  it  must  rest  till 
that  time.  If  the  king  postpones  the  decision,  saying  as 
is  not  unlikely:  'II  know  nothing  about  this  man,  either 
as  to  repute  or  mannersjand  cannot  reply  at  once  to 
his  request  but  must  first  observe  clearly  his  ways  of 
thinking  and  doing;  "  then  the  matter  is  closed  for  the 
time  being.  But  you  may,  if  you  are  so  disposed,  con- 


tinue  your  suit  and  try  to  find  a  more  convenient  time, 
when  your  affairs  may  have  a  more  favorable  outcome. 
However,  while  you  are  seeking  to  gain  the  king's  favor, 
I  you  will  need  above  all  to  keep  close  to  the  best  and 
most  discreet  men,  and  you  should  often  be  seen  in  the 
, $ Q  \  company  of  those  who  are  dearest  to  the  king.  But  pay 
all  the  necessary  outlay  out  of  your  own  means,  how- 
ever long  this  probation  may  last,  unless  you  should 
sometime  be  invited  by  the  king's  order  to  his  tables. 
And  let  it  not  be  true  in  your  case  as  is  true  in  the  case 
of  many  an  unwise  man,  that  the  more  often  you  find 
yourself  invited,  the  more  you  begin  to  long  for  an- 
other's fare,  lest  upright  men  come  to  regard  you  as 
selfish  and  impertinent,  and  those  become  hostile  who 
were  formerly  your  friends  and  comrades.  Walk  up- 
rightly, therefore,  and  be  heedful  in  all  such  matters, 
lest  evil  befall  you  through  lack  of  foresight. 



Son.  If  you  permit,  I  will  ask  to  be  allowed  a  few 
words  in  this  discussion.  On  what  do  you  base  your 
statement  that  it  is  considered  good  deportment  among 
princes  for  a  man  to  come  bareheaded  and  without  a 
mantle  when  he  comes  to  seek  audience  with  them.  If 
anyone  did  thus  in  the  country,  the  mob  would  say  that 
the  man  was  a  fool  to  run  about  in  that  way  without  a 
cloak  like  a  ninny. 

Father.  I  told  you  a  little  earlier  in  our  conversation 
that  many  a  man  goes  about  in  ignorance  as  to  what  is 


fitting  in  a  king's  house,  because  many  things  look  stu- 
pid  to  the  multitude  which  are  considered  proper  in  the 
presence  of  kings  and  other  great  men.  Now  you  shall 
know  of  a  truth,  not  only  that  it  is  fitting  to  come  with- 
out a  mantle  when  one  appears  for  the  first  time  before 
a  king,  but  also  that  in  many  places  it  is  as  proper  to 
wear  one's  mantle  in  the  royal  presence  as  to  leave  it 
off.  But  since  you  have  asked  the  reason  why  it  should 
seem  more  decorous  to  appear  before  princes  without 
one's  mantle  than  to  wear  it,  it  might  be  a  more  than 
sufficient  answer  to  say  that  it  is  the  custom  wherever 
well  bred  men  appear  in  the  presence  of  mighty  lords 
to  come  without  a  mantle,  and  that  jyhoever  is  ignorant 
of  that  custom  is  there  called  a/churljl 

But  these  facts  may  serve  asrwr'additional  answer: 
if  a  man  appears  before  magnatesL  wrapped  in  his  cloak,  "1 
he  shows  in  that  way  that  he  regards  himself  as  an/ 
equal  to  them  in  whose  presence  he  is;  for  he  comes  1    » 
clad  in  all  his  finery  like  a  lord,  and  acts  as  if  he  need    f 
not  serve  any  one.  But  if  he  lays  aside  his  cloak,  he 
shows  that  he  is  ready  for  service,  if  the  one  who  is  en- 
titled to  receive  rather  than  to  do  service  is  willing  to 
accept  itTJLikewise  there  are  instances  of  this  other  fact,  ' 
which  often  necessitates  caution,  that  many  are  envious 
of  a  king;  and  if  his  enemy  is  rash  and  bold,  he  can  in- 
deed come  before  the  king  with  hidden  perils  and  mur- 
derous weapons,  if  he  is  allowed  to  wear  his  mantle;  but 
he  cannot  easily  accomplish  this  if  he  comes  without  his 
cloak.  It  is  therefore  evident  that  he  was  a  wise  man 
who  first  ordained  the  formality  that  a  man  should  ap- 
pear without  a  mantle  before  great  lords  and  especially 



before  kings.  For  that  custom  has  since  led  to  greater 
security  against  secret  treason  which  could  easily  be 
hidden  under  the  cloak,  if  it  were  worn.  The  custom 
has  also  promoted  fair  dealing  and  concord  among  men, 
for  in  this  matter  they  all  enjoy  the  same  rights;  and 
this  being  the  accepted  custom,  one  is  not  suspected  or 
searched  more  than  others. 



Son.  Although  this  custom  seemed  strange  to  me  be- 
fore I  heard  your  comment,  it  now  looks  as  if  it  were 
founded  on  good  sense  and  is  not  to  be  dispensed  with; 
and  therefore  it  will  be  well  if  you  will  continue  to  re- 
count and  point  out  to  me  all  the  forms  of  speech  and 
conduct  which  one  needs  to  observe  in  the  presence  of 
kings  and  other  great  men. 

Father.  Keep  carefully  in  mind,  while  in  the  king's 
presence,  that  you  ought  not  to  engage  in  conversation 
with  other  men  and  thus  fail  to  pay  heed  to  everything 
that  the  king  says,  lest  it  happen,  if  he  addresses  a  re- 
mark to  you,  that  you  have  to  ask  what  he  said.  For  it 
always  looks  ill  for  one  to  be  so  inattentive  that  the 
words  spoken  to  him  must  be  repeated  before  he  can 
hear;  and  it  looks  particularly  bad  in  the  presence  of 
important  men.  Still,  it  can  very  often  come  to  pass, 
when  one  is  in  a  lord's  presence,  that  other  men  crowd 
about  him  and  ask  questions  of  many  sorts; Sometimes 
this  is  due  to  the  stupidity  of  those  who  do  thus,  but 


often  the  reason  may  be  that  he  who  acts  in  this  way 
would  not  be  displeased  if  something  should  be  found 
to  be  censured  in  him  who  has  a  plea  to  make.-* 

Now  if  it  should  happen  while  you  are  standing  be- 
fore a  king  that  some  one  in  the  meantime  should  try 
to  address  a  question  or  other  remark  to  you,  have 
friendly  words  ready  on  your  lips  and  reply  in  this  wise: 
"  Wait  a  moment,  my  good  man,  while  I  listen  a  while 
to  what  the  king  says;  later  I  shall  be  pleased  to  talk 
with  you  as  long  as  you  wish."  If  he  still  tries  to  have 
further  words  with  you,  speak  no  more  to  him  then  un- 
til the  king  has  finished  his  remarks.  If  it  now  should 
happen  that  the  king  has  a  few  words  to  say  to  you, 
be  very  careful  in  yourcanswer  not  to  use  plural  terms  O  */w 
in  phrases  that  refer  to  yourself,  though  you  do  use  the 
plural,  as  is  proper,  in  all  phrases  referring  to  the  king 
But  even  more  you  need  to  beware  of  what  fools  fre- 
quently do,  namely  using  the  plural  in  phrases  referring 
to  yourself,  while  you  employ  the  singular  in  those  that 
refer  to  the  king.  And  if  the  king  should  happen  to 
speak  a  few  words  to  you  which  you  did  not  catch,  and 
you  have  to  ask  what  he  said,  do  not  say  "  Eh  ?  "  or 
"  What  ?  "  or  make  a  fuss  about  it,  but  use  only  the 
word  "  Sire;  "  or  if  you  prefer  to  ask  in  more  words: 
"  My  lord,  be  not  offended  if  I  ask  what  you  said  to 
me,  but  I  did  not  quite  catch  it."  But  see  to  it  that 
it  happens  in  rare  cases  only  that  the  king  need  to  re- 
peat his  remarks  to  you  more  than  once  before  you 
grasp  them. 




THE  PROPER  USES  OF  "  YOU  "  AND  "  THOU  " 

Son.  On  what  ground  is  it  thought  better  to  phrase 
all  remarks  addressed  to  lords  in  the  plural  than  in  the 
singular  ?  When  one  directs  a  prayer  to  God,  Who  is 
higher  and  more  excellent  than  all  others,  the  expres- 
sions that  refer  to  Him  are  all  phrased  in  the  singular; 
for  everyone  who  makes  his  prayer  to  God  speaks  in 
this  wise:  "Almighty  God,  my  Lord,  hear  Thou  my 
prayer  and  be  Thou  more  merciful  toward  me  than  I 
deserve."  But  I  hear  no  one  form  his  words  in  this  wise: 
"  My  Lord,  hear  my  prayer  and  deal  better  with  me 
because  of  Your  mercy  than  I  deserve."  Now  I  am  not 
sure  that  my  question  is  a  very  wise  one;  still,  since  you 
have  allowed  me  to  ask  whatever  I  desire  to  know,  I 
shall  look  for  an  informing  reply  as  before,  even  though 
I  ask  like  a  child. 

Father.  I  shall  indeed  be  glad  to  explain  everything 
to  you  as  far  as  I  am  able;  but  I  do  not  see  why  you  are 
searching  into  this  matter  so  closely  that  one  shall  even 
have  to  give  reasons  for  the  choice  of  terms  in  holy 
prayer.  For  the  teachers  of  the  church  are  far  better 
able  to  interpret  matters  that  belong  to  divinity  than  I. 
But  since  every  question  looks  toward  a  reply,  I  shall 
explain  this  to  you  in  a  few  words,  as  it  seems  most 
reasonable  to  me;  and  I  shall  take  up  first  what  seems 
to  me  the  most  important.  Now  I  believe  the  terms  used 
in  sacred  prayers  are  chosen  so  that  we  call  upon  the 
divine  name  in  the  singular  rather  than  in  the  plural, 
in  order  that  all  who  believe  in  God  may  clearly  under- 


stand  that  we  believe  in  one  true  God  and  not  in  nu- 
merous idols  like  the  heathen  who  formerly  called  upon          ^ 
seven  gods.  For  they  held  that  one  god  ruled  the  heavO 
ens;  another,  the  heavenly  bodies;  a  third,  the  earth  f 
and  its  fruits;  a  fourth,  the  sea  and  its  waters;  a  fifth,  the  ^ 
air  and  the  winds;  a  sixth,  learning  and  eloquence;  a 
seventh,  death  and  hell.] Now  we  should  honor  the  one  ^ 
true  God  Whom  all  creation  serves  and  call  upon  Him 
in  singular  terms,  lest  false  gods  obtain  our  worship,  if 
when  calling  upon  the  divine  name  we  use  plural  terms, 
as  if  there  were  more  than  one  God.  There  is  this  added 
reason,   that  simple^njjnded  folk  may  conclude  tl 
there  are  more  gods  than  one  if  His  name  be  invoked  in 
plural  terms.  Thus  it  is  rightfully  and  wisely  ordered, 
so  that  a  simple  and  holy  faith  shall  have  no  cause  to 
stray  away  from  the  true  highway.  Now  if  you  do  not 
fully  grasp  this  speech,  we  shall  find  more  to  say;  but 
if  it  has  led  you  to  clearer  insight,  we  may  as  well  direct 
our  thoughts  to  the  other  matters  that  you  have  asked 



Son.  These  things  seem  very  clear  to  me  and  it  ap- 
pears both  reasonable  and  necessary  that  one  should 
use  the  singular  rather  than  the  plural  in  addressing 
God,  lest  the  true  faith  be  debased  by  the  use  of  plural 
expressions  and  the  cunning  adversaries  obtain  the  wor- 
ship that  a  simple  and  true  faith  refuses  them.  But 
now  I  wish  to  have  you  turn  to  what  I  asked  about  the 
mighty  men  of  this  world,  and  explain  why  it  seems 
better  to  address  them  in  plural  than  in  singular  terms. 


Father.  It  might  be  a  sufficient  answer  to  state  that 
it  seems  better  to  address  princes  in  plural  than  in  singu- 
lar terms  for  the  reason  that  well-bred  people  have  found 
it  so  from  the  beginning;  and  it  has  since  become  a  cus- 
tom among  all  discreet  and  courteous  men,  and  is  done 
in  honor  of  those  who  are  addressed  and  are  entitled  to 
a  deferential  mode  of  address.  But  this  is  the  thought 
which  they  had  in  mind  who  originated  these  expres- 
sions, that  men  of  power  are  not  like  all  others  who  have 
t,}}  only  themselves  and  their  households  to  care  for  and 

(^  are  responsible  for  a  few  men  only.(jFor  chieftains  are 
2  responsible  for  all  those  who  are  subject  to  them  in  serv- 
^  ice  or  authority ,~Jand  they  have  not  only  one  man's 
answer  on  the  tongue  but  have  indeed  to  answer  for 
many.  And  when  a  good  chief  departs  this  life,  it  is  not 
as  if  one  man  is  lost,  but  it  is  a  great  loss  to  all  those  who 
received  support  and  honors  from  him;  and  they  seem 
to  be  of  less  consequence  after  they  have  lost  their  chief 
than  before  while  he  was  living,  unless  one  shall  come 
into  his  stead  who  will  be  as  gracious  to  them  as  the 
departed  one  was.  Now  since  great  lords  both  maintain 
the  honor  of  many  and  have  great  cares  and  liabilities 
on  their  account,  it  is  surely  proper  to  honor  them  by 
using  the  plural  forms  of  address  in  all  speech  that  those 
who  are  humbler  and  of  less  consequence  may  have  to 
address  to  them.  But  there  remain  those  things  which 
were  learned  or  thought  of  when  this  custom  was  first 
ordained:  that  kings  and  other  powerful  men  are  not 
alone  in  their  deliberations  but  are  associated  with  many 
S  other  wise  and  distinguished  men;/and  therefore,  when 
>  a  chief  is  addressed  in  plural  terms,  it  may  be  thought 


that  the  words  are  not  addressed  to  the  king  alone,  but 
also  to  all  those  who  sit  in  his  councils  as  his  advisers/] 

In  my  last  speech  I  also  mentioned  that  you  must 
have  care  never  to  use  the  plural  in  expressions  referring 
to  yourself,  lest  you  seem  to  regard  yourself  as  on  an 
equality  with  the  one  to  whom  you  are  speaking,  if  he 
is  of  higher  rank  than  you  areJAnd  even  when  you  " 
talk  with  an  equal  or  with  a  humbler  man  than  you/ 
are,  it  is  not, fitting  for  you  to  honor  yourself  with?^ 
plural  termsT^ou  must  also  beware  when  in  the  presence/  _    fc/b  \ 
of  princes,  lest  you  become  too  verbose  in  your  talk;  for      / 
great  lords  and  all  discreet  men  are  displeased  with    •        v? 
prolixity  and  regard  it  as  tedious  and  worthless  folly^)       f*l,   *e 
^Further,  if  you  have  a  matter  to  present,  whether  it   1 
concerns  yourself  or  others,  present  it  clearly  but  with  ^ 
quick  utterance  and  in  the  fewest  possible  wordsjTforx 
constantly  there  comes  before  kings  and  other  lords 
such  a  great  mass  of  business  respecting  the  manifold 
needs  of  their  subjects,  that  they  have  neither  time  nor 
inclination  to  hear  a  case  discussed  in  a  long,  detailed 
speech.)  And  it  is  very  evident  that,  if  a  man  is  clever 
and  fluent  in  speech,  he  will  find  it  easy  to  state  his  case 
in  a  few  rapidly  spoken  words,  so  that  the  one  who  is 
to  reply  will  grasp  it  readily.  Then,  too,  if  one  is  not  an 
orator  and,  even  more,  is  awkward  in  speech,  the  briefer 
the  errand  on  his  tongue,  the  better  it  is;  for  a  man  can 
somehow  manage  to  get  through  with  a  few  words  and 
thus  conceal  his  awkwardness  from  those  to  whom  it  is 
unknown.  But  when  a  man  makes  an  elaborate  effort, 
he  will  surely  seem  the  more  unskilful  the  longer  he 





Now  such  things  there  are  and  others  like  them  into 
which  a  man,  if  he  wishes  to  be  called  well-bred,  must 
get  some  insight  and  which  he  ought  to  learn  at  home 
before  he  goes  very  often  to  have  conversation  with  great 
lords.  And  from  all  this  you  will  see  how  courtly  and 
cultured  they  ought  to  be  in  their  manners  and  conduct 
who  are  constantly  to  be  near  a  king  in  all  manner  of 
honorable  intercourse,  since  it  has  appeared  to  knowing 
men  as  if  one  is  scarcely  prepared  to  come  into  the  king's 

^presence  to  converse  with  him  unless  he  has  mastered 
all  these  things  that  we  have  now  talked  about,  except 
he  should  be  a  perfect  boor,  and  not  to  be  reckoned  or 
classed  among  well-bred  people  but  among  the  very 

Churls.  Still,  you  must  know  this,  too,  that  there  are 
many  who  have  spent  a  long  time  at  court,  and  know 
but  little  or  nothing  about  these  things.  And  this  is 
true  of  those  who  bear  the  hirdman's  name  and  should 
be  very  close  to  the  king,  as  well  as  of  those  who  have 
lesser  titles  and  rarely  see  the  king.  It  must  have  been 
of  such  as  these  last  mentioned  that  you  spoke  earlier 
in  our  conversation  when  you  remarked  that  those  who 
came  from  the  court  seemed  no  more  polished  or  cul- 
tured, or  even  less,  than  those  who  had  never  been  at 
urt.  To  that  I  replied,  and  with  truth,  that  everyone 
who  wishes  to  be  proper  in  his  conduct  needs  to  guard 
against  such  ignorance  as  they  are  guilty  of,  who  know 
not  the  meaning  of  shame  or  honor  or  courtesy,  and 
learn  nothing  from  the  conduct  of  good  and  courtly  men, 
even  though  they  see  it  daily  before  their  eyes. 




Son.  It  is  a  fact  that  I  have  met  some  who,  though 
they  came  from  court,  either  concealed  the  sort  of  man- 
ners that  you  have  now  discussed,  if  they  knew  them, 
or  had,  as  I  remarked,  never  gained  insight  into  such 
matters.  Now  it  is  not  strange  that  those  who  remain 
at  home  in  ignorance  or  are  not  of  an  inquiring  mind 
know  little  or  nothing  about  such  things;  but  it  is  more 
to  be  wondered  at,  as  you  have  just  said,  that  many  re- 
main a  long  time  with  the  king  and  close  to  him  in  serv- 
ice, and  still  do  not  learn  either  what  courtesy  means 
or  what  courtly  manners  are.  Therefore,  since  you  have 
warned  me  to  beware  of  such  ignorance,  I  want  to  ask 
you  how  this  can  be  and  how  a  king  who  is  well-bred 
and  courteous  can  be  willing  to  keep  men  about  his  per- 
son to  serve  him,  who  refuse  to  live  according  to  good 
manners.  For  I  have  thought  that,  if  a  king  is  courteous 
and  refined,  all  would  imitate  him  in  decorum,  and  that 
he  would  not  care  much  for  churlish  men. 

Father.  It  may  happen  sometimes  that  a  husband- 
man who  is  accustomed  to  eat  good  bread  and  clean 
food  has  to  mix  chaff  or  bran  with  his  flour  so  as  to  make 
his  bread  and  that  of  his  household  last  longer  than 
common;  and  at  such  times  he  must,  though  reluctant, 
partake  of  such  food  as  is  set  before  him  in  the  same 
thankful  spirit  as  earlier,  when  he  was  given  good  and 
clean  food;  and  such  cases  result  from  grinding  neces- 
sity, that  is,  from  crop  failures.  But  scarcity  arises  in 


many  ways.  Sometimes  there  is  dearth  of  grain,  even 
when  the  earth  continues  to  yield  grass  and  straw, 
though  at  times  it  gives  neither.  There  are  times,  too, 
when  the  earth  gives  good  and  sufficient  fruitage,  and 
yet  no  one  is  profited,  for  dearth  is  in  the  air,  and  bad 
weather  ruins  the  crops  at  harvest  time.  Sometimes 
smut  *  causes  trouble,  though  the  crop  is  plentiful  and 
the  weather  good.  It  can  also  happen  at  times  that  all 
vegetation  flourishes  at  its  best,  and  there  is  no  dearth; 
and  yet  there  may  be  great  scarcity  on  some  [man's 
farm  or  among  his  cattle,  or  in  the  ocean,  or  in  the  fresh 
waters,  or  in  the  hunting  forests/jSometimes  when 
everything  goes  wrong,  it  may  even  come  to  pass  that 
all  these  failures  occur  together;  and  then  bran  will  be 
as  dear  among  men  as  clean  flour  was  earlier,  when  times 
were  good,  or  even  dearer  than  that.  All  these  forms  of 
dearth  which  I  have  now  recounted  must  be  regarded 
as  great  calamities  in  every  land  where  they  occur;  and 
it  would  mean  almost  complete  ruin  if  they  should  all 
appear  at  the  same  time  and  continue  for  a  period  of 
three  years. 

There  remains  another  kind  of  dearth  which  alone 
is  more  distressing  than  all  those  which  I  have  enu- 
merated: dearth  may  come  upon  the  people  who  in- 
habit the  land,  or,  what  is  worse,  there  may  come  failure 
in  the  morals,  the  intelligence,  or  the  counsels  of  those 
who  are  to  govern  the  land.  For  something  can  be  done 
to  help  a  country  where  there  is  famine,  if  capable  men 
are  in  control  and  there  is  prosperity  in  the  neighboring 
lands.  But  if  dearth  comes  upon  the  people  or  the  morals 

*  Skjafiak.  The  translation  is  uncertain;  possibly  some  sort  of  weed  is  meant. 


of  the  nation,  far  greater  misfortunes  will  arise.  For  one 
cannot  buy  from  other  countries  with  money  either 
morals  or  insight,  if  what  was  formerly  in  the  land 
should  be  lost  or  destroyed.  But  even  though  there  be 
failure  of  harvest  on  a  peasant's  farm,  which  has  always 
been  good  and  which  he  and  his  kinsmen  before  him 
have  owned  a  long  time,  he  will  not  take  such  an  angry 
dislike  to  it  that,  caring  no  longer  what  becomes  of  it, 
he  will  proceed  forthwith  to  dispose  of  it;  much  rather 
will  he  plan  to  garner  and  store  grass  and  chaff  as  care- 
fully as  he  once  garnered  good  and  clean  grain,  or  even 
more  so,  and  in  this  way  provide  for  his  household  as 
best  he  can,  until  God  wills  that  times  shall  improve. 
In  this  way,  too,  a  king  must  act[if  he  should  suffer  the  /  [^ 
misfortune  of  dearth  upon  the  morals  or  the  intelligence 
^hjs_realm^  he  mujstjiot  renounce  the  kingdom^  but 
necessity  may  force  him  to  rate  the  men  of  little  wit  as 
high  as  the  wise  were  rated  earlier  while  the  kingdom 
stood  highest  in  prosperity  and  morals. ISometimes  pun- 
ishment will  serve  and  sometimes  prayer;  something 
may  also  be  gained  through  instruction;  but  the  land 
must  be  maintained  in  every  way  possible  until  God 
wills  that  times  shall  improve. 



Son.  I  see  clearly  now  that  troubles  may  befall  men 
in  many  ways,  the  mighty  as  well  as  the  humble,  kings 
as  well  as  cotters.  But  as  you  have  given  me  this  free- 
dom and  have  allowed  me  to  question  you  in  our  con- 


versation,  I  shall  ask  you  to  enlarge  somewhat  fully 
upon  this  speech  before  we  take  up  another.  What  is 
your  opinion  as  to  the  causes  of  such  a  severe  dearth  as 
may  come  upon  the  minds  of  men,  so  that  all  is  ruined 
at  the  same  time,  insight  and  national  morals  ?  And  do 
you  think  such  losses  should  be  traced  to  the  people 
who  inhabit  the  realm  or  to  the  king  and  the  men  who 
manage  the  state  with  him  ? 

Father.  What  you  have  now  asked  about  has  its  origin 

in  various  facts  anji  occurrences  of  a  harmful  character. 

I  believe,  however,  thaJLsuch  misf  ortune&jsyould  Tarely 

appear  among  the  people  who  inhabit  and  till  the  land, 

jf  the  men  ^n  povern  the  realm  were  discreet  an^  the 

But  when  God,  because  of  the 

sins  of  the  people,  determines  to  visit  a  land  with  a  pun- 
ishment that  means  destruction  to  morals  and  intellect, 
He  will  carry  out  His  decision  promptly,  though  in  vari- 
ous ways,  as  soon  as  He  wills  it.  Instances  of  this  have 
occurred  frequently  and  in  various  places,  where  trouble 
has  come  when  a  chieftain,,  who  possessed  both  wealth 
and  wisdom  and  who  had  been  highly  honored  by  the 
king,  having  sat  in  his  council  and  shared  largely  with 
him  in  the  government,  departed  this  life  leaving  four 
or  five  sons  in  his  place,  all  in  their  early  youth  or  child- 
hood. Then  the  king  and  the  whole  realm  have  suffered 
immediate  injury:  the  king  has  lost  a  good  friend,  an 
excellent  adviser,  and  a  strong  bulwark^Next  the  man's 
possessions  are  divided  into  five  parts,  and  all  his  proj- 
ects are  disturbedjHis  household  sinks  in  importance, 
since  each  of  the  sons  has  but  a  fifth  of  all  the  power 
that  the  father  derived  from  his  means  while  he  was 


living,  and  has  even  less  of  his  insight  and  knowledge 
of  manners,  being  a  mere  child.  Greater  still  will  the 
change  be  if  he  leaves  no  son  at  his  decease  but  as  many 
daughters  as  I  have  now  counted  sons;  but  the  very  x 
greatest  change  will  come  if  neither  sons  nor  daughters 
survive  him;  for  then  it  is  likely  that  his  possessions  will 
be  split  up  among  distant  relatives,  unless  a  near  kins- 
man be  found. 

Now  if  many  such  events  should  occur  at  one  time  •  / 

in  a  kingdom/ vigor,  would  disappear  from  the  king's  7  - 
council,,  though  he  himself  be  very  capable.!  And  if  itj 
should  happen  (for  there  are  cases  of  such  events  as 
well  as  of  the  others)  that  a  king  depart  this  life  and 
leave  a  young  son  who  succeeds  to  the  paternal  king- 
dom, though  a  mere  child,  and  young  counsellors  come 
into  the  places  of  the  old  and  wise  advisers  who  were 
before,  —  if  all  these  things  that  we  have  now  recounted 
should  happen  at  one  time,  then  it  is  highly  probable 
that  all  the  government  of  the  realm  would  be  stricken 
with  dearth,  and  that,  when  the  government  goes  to 
ruin,  the  morals  of  the  nation  would  also  fail  to  some 

There  still  remains  the  one  contingency  which  is  most 
likely  to  bring  on  such  years  of  dearth  as  produce  the 
greatest  evils;  and  unfortunately  there  are  no  fewer 
instances  of  such  issues  than  of  those  that  we  have 
just  mentioned.  If  a  king  who  has  governed  a  kingdom 
should  happen  to  die,  and  leave  behind  three  or  four 
sons,  and  the  men  who  are  likely  to  be  made  counsellors 
be  all  young  and  full  of  temerity,  though  wealthy  and 
of  good  ancestry,  since  they  have  sprung  from  families 



that  formerly  conducted  the  government  with  the  king, 
—  now  if  a  kingdom  should  come  into  such  unfortunate 
circumstances  as  have  been  described,  with  several  heirs 
at  the  same  time,  and  the  evil  counsel  is  furthermore 
taken  to  give  them  all  the  royal  title  and  dignity,  then 
that  realm  must  be  called  a  rudderless  ship  or  a  decayed 
estate;  it  may  be  regarded  almost  as  a  ruined  kingdom, 
for  it  is  sown  with  the  worst  seeds  of  famine  and  the 
grains  of  unpeacefFor  the  petty  kings,  having  rent  the 
realm  asunder,  will  quickly  divide  the  loyalty  of  the 
people  who  inhabit  the  land,  both  of  the  rich  and  of  the 
poor;  and  each  of  these  lords  will  then  try  to  draw  friends 
about  him,  as  many  as  he  can.lThereupon  each  will  be- 
gin to  survey  his  realm  as  to  population  and  wealth; 
and  when  he  recalls  what  his  predecessor  possessed,  each 
will  feel  that  he  has  too  little.  Then  the  friends,  too,  of 
each  one  will  remind  him  of  and  tell  about  how  much 
the  king  who  ruled  before  him  possessed  in  wealth  and 
numbers  and  what  great  undertakings  he  set  out  upon; 
and  it  seems  as  if  in  every  suggestion  each  one  tries  to 
urge  his  lord  to  seize  upon  more  than  he  already  has. 
After  that  these  lords  begin  to  treasure  those  riches  that 
are  of  the  least  profit  to  the  kingdom,  namely(Sovy~T) 
trivial  matters  are  carefully  garnered  and  great  wrath 
is  blown  out  of  them.  Soon  the  love  of  kinship  begins  to 
-decay;  he  who  was  earlier  called  friend  and  relative  is 
now  looked  upon  as  an  evil-doer,  for  soon  each  one  be- 
gins to  be  suspicious  of  the  others.  But  when  suspicion 
and  evil  rumors  begin  to  appear,  wicked  men  think  that 
good  times  are  at  hand,  and  they  all  bring  out  their 
plows.  Before  long  the  seeds  of  hostility  begin  to  sprout, 



avarice  and  iniquity  flourish,  and  men  grow  bold  in 
manslaying,  high-handed  robbery,  and  theft. 

Now  if  it  happens  that  one  of  these  princes  should 
wish  to  punish  the  aforesaid  vices  in  his  kingdom,  the 
wicked  take  refuge  in  the  service  of  some  other  master; 
and,  though  they  have  been  driven  from  home  because 
of  their  misdeeds,  they  pretend  to  have  come  in  inno- 
cence to  escape  the  cruel  wrath  of  their  lord.  The  one  to 
whom  they  have  fled  gives  protection  in  temerity  rather 
than  in  mercy;  for  he  wishes  to  acquire  friends  in  the 
other's  realm,  who  may  prove  useful  to  himself  and 
hostile  to  the  other  in  case  they  should  come  to  disa- 
greement. But  those  who  had  to  flee  because  of  their 
evil  conduct  and  lawbreaking  soon  begin  to  show  hos- 
tility toward  the  lord  whose  subjects  they  formerly 
were  and  to  rouse  as  much  enmity  as  they  can  between 
him  and  the  one  to  whom  they  have  come.  They  take 
revenge  for  their  exile  by  carrying  murder,  rapine,  and 
plundering  into  the  kingdom,  as  if  they  were  guiltless 
and  all  the  blame  lay  with  the  lord.  Soon  immorality 
begins  to  multiply,  for  God  shows  His  wrath  in  this 
way,  that  where  the  four  boundaries  of  the  territories 
of  these  chiefs  touch,  he  places  a  moving  wheel  which 
turns  on  a  restless  axle.  After  that  each  one  forgets  all 
brotherly  love,  and  kinship  is  wrecked  ^Nothing  is  now 
spared,  for  whenever  the  people  are  divided  into  many 
factions  through  loyalty  to  different  chiefs,  and  these 
fall  out,  themasses  will  rashly  pursue  their  desires,  and 
the  morals  of  the  nation  go  to  ruin.  For  then  everyone 
'  makes  his  own  moral  code  according  to  his  own  way  of 
thinking;  and  no  one  fears  punishment  any  longer  when 
the  rulers  fall  out  and  are  weakened  thereby."? 



When  each  one  looks  only  to  his  own  tricks  and  wiles, 
great  misfortunes  of  all  kinds  will  come  upon  the  land. 
Murder  and  quarrels  will  multiply;  many  women  will 
.)  £  be  carried  off  as  captives  of  war  and  violated,  while 
vd  others  will  be  ensnared  and  seduced  into  fornication; 
children  will  be  begotten  in  adultery  and  unlawful  co- 
habitation. Some  take  their  kinswomen  or  sisters-in-law, 
while  others  seduce  wives  away  from  their  husbands; 
and  thus  all  forms  of  whoredom  are  committed  and  de- 
generacy will  come  to  light  in  all  the  generations  that 
are  begotten  in  such  immorality.  Every  form  of  crime 
will  be  committed.  Peasants  and  subjects  become  de- 
fiant and  disobedient;  they  are  not  careful  to  avoid 
crimes,  and  though  they  commit  many,  they  atone  for 
few  only.  Trusting  in  their  own  strength  and  numbers, 
they  attend  seditious  meetings;  and  they  choose  as 


their  part  what  is  likely  to  bring  a  dangerous  outcome, 
4  ffor  they  place  all  men  on  the  same  leveOthe  discreet 
and  decent  ones  with  the  coarse  and  stupid,  and  they 
screen  foolish  and  iniquitous  men  from  punishment, 
though  these  deserve  it  every  day.  And  this  they  do 
either  by  swearing  falsely  and  giving  false  witness  in 
their  behalf,  or  by  making  a  foolhardy  and  crafty  de- 
fence at  the  court  of  trial,  so  that  the  guilty  have  to 
answer  for  nothing  before  the  kingsmen  who  assist  the 
king  in  carrying  out  the  law.  [For  the  unthinking  mob 
seem  to  imagine  that  the  king  was  appointed  to  be  their 
opponent  ;jand  a  foolish  man  regards  himself  fortunate 
and  highly  favored  in  the  eyes  of  thoughtless  people,  if 
he  can  maintain  himself  for  some  time  in  opposition  to 
royal  authority  and  the  prescriptions  of  law.  And  if 


such  men  have  disputes  to  settle  anywhere,  the  wicked 
will  support  the  foolish  one,  so  that  he  may  prevail  in 
the  controversy;  thus  the  upright  and  the  peaceful  are 
robbed  of  their  dues.  If  the  greedy  or  the  quarrelsome 
is  slain  because  of  his  avarice,  his  stupid  kinsmen  who 
survive  him  will  feel  that  their  family  has  been  greatly 
injured  and  impaired  thereby;  and  if  at  some  earlier  time 
there  was  slain  one  of  their  family  who  was  both  wise 
and  peaceful,  and  whose  wisdom  and  even  temper 
proved  useful  to  many,  and  if  this  one  was  atoned  for 
with  a  payment  to  the  kindred,  they  will  now  ask  as 
large  a  fine  for  the  unwise  as  what  was  formerly  taken 
for  the  prudent  one;  otherwise  there  will  be  revenge  by 

But  when  God  sees  that  such  misjudgments,  born  of 
perversity  and  unwisdom,  are  decreed,  He  turns  the  in- 
justice back  upon  those  who  first  began  to  pass  unfair 
and  unfounded  judgments.  For  as  soon  as  the  foolish  or 
the  avaricious  sees  that  he  is  held  in  high  regard,  even 
more  than  the  wise  with  his  even  temper,  and  that  his 
avarice  and  folly  are  turned  to  honor  and  advance 
he  will  do  according  to  his  nature  and  the  custom  of  all  ) 
foolish  men:  he  will  become  more  grasping  and  will 
operate  more  widely  in  his  greed.  And  when  the  mo 
begins  to  regard  that  as  worthy  of  praise  and  renown 
which  is  evil  and  should  be  hated  by  all,  the  second 
and  the  third  will  learn  it  and  the  one  after  the  other, 
until  it  becomes  common  custom;  and  he  alone  will  be 
counted  a  worthy  man  who  is  grasping  and  knows  how 
to  detract  unjustly  from  another's  honor  to  his  own 
profit.  After  that  the  one  deals  greedily  with  the  other, 


till  misfortune  turns  against  the  very  ones  whose  folly 
and  wickedness  originally  began  these  evil  practices. 
For  one  will  finally  bring  evil  upon  another,  wounds  or 
other  afflictions,  and  thus  all  old  and  lawful  ordinances 
must  decay /Now  everyone  holds  that  the  king  and 
other  great  lords  should  temper  the  severity  of  the  laws 
with  mercy;  but  none  of  the  commoners  seems  willing 
to  deal  justly  with  another  fjindeed,  each  would  rather 
demand  more  than  what  he  was  entitled  to  from  the 
beginningfBut  when  all  lawful  ordinances  and  right 
)    punishments  are  ignored  and  unlaw  and  malice  take 
<S      their  place,  and  this  condition  becomes  so  general  that 
/       God  is  wearied,  He  applies  the  punishment  that  is  able 
V      to  reach  all,  since  the  guilt  has  touched  all^He  throws 
/  hatred  and  enmity  down  among  the  chiefs  who  are 
j  placed  in  control  of  the  realm;  when  things  go  ill  there 
/  may  also  come  failure  of  crops;  and  the  chiefs  soon  begin 
I    to  quarrel,  for  each  finds  complaints  in  the  other's  king- 
V  dom,  which  are  finally  settled  with  slaughter  and  strife. 
But  whenever  famine,  murder,  and  warfare  begin  to 
arrive  together  and  visit  all  those  who  inhabit  the  realm, 
the  kingdom  will  be  brought  near  to  utter  weakness  and 
ruin,  if  the  period  should  continue  any  length  of  time. 
Though  laws  and  useful  customs  may  have  been  ob- 
served and  maintained  to  some  extent  in  the  times  men- 
tioned earlier,  they  will  be  wholly  forgotten  whenever 
such  times  appear  as  those  that  we  have  just  now  de- 
scribed; for  in  warfare  the  best  men  and  those  of  the 
noblest  kinship  are  destroyed.   But  failure  of  crops, 
rapine,  and  unpeace  of  every  sort  that  may  then  ap- 
pear will  rob  those  of  wealth  who  are  in  possession  of 


it  and  have  acquired  it  honestly,  while  he  gets  it  who  can 
most  readily  deprive  others  by  theft  and  plunder.  And 
when  such  a  time  comes  upon  a  nation,  it  will  suffer 
loss  in  good  morals  and  capable  men,  wealth  and  se- 
curity, and  every  blessing  as  long  as  God  permits  the 
plague  to  continue.  But  He  metes  out  according  to  His 
mercy,  for  He  is  able  to  save  such  a  country,  when  He 
finds  that  the  people  have  been  sufficiently  chastised 
for  their  sins.  Now  you  can  imagine  how  highly  moral 
the  people  will  become/if  such  a  nation  is  saved  by  GooVs 
grace  and  again  brought  under  the  rule  of  a  single 
monarch,  and  how  prosperous  the  realm  may  become 
in  the  period  immediately  following  such  an  unrest  as 
I  have  just  described.  For  then  the  kingdom,  was  rent, 
the  morals  of  the  people  were  confused,  and  their  loyalty 
was  divided  among  a  number  of  lords,  each  one  of  whom 
was  striving  to  contrive  and  employ  against  the  others 
cunning,  deception,  disloyalty,  and  evil  in  every  form.i/  / 



Son.    It  is  perfectly  evident  that  if  all  these  misfor- 
tunes should  befall  a  kingdom  and  the  period  of  trouble 

*  In  this  chapter  the  author  has  summed  up  the  history  of  Norwegian  king- 
ship in  the  twelfth  century,  when  minorities  were  frequent  and  joint  king- 
ships almost  the  rule.  Three  boys  were  proclaimed  kings  in  1103;  two  kings 
shared  the  power  in  1130;  the  royal  title  fell  to  three  children  in  1136.  At  no 
time  was  the  realm  actually  divided,  the  theory  being  that  the  administra- 
tion and  the  revenues  might  be  divided,  while  the  monarchy  remained  a  unit. 
The  century  was  a  period  of  great  calamities;  pretenders  were  numerous;  and 
civil  war  raged  at  intervals.  For  a  fuller  discussion  of  the  theory  of  Norwegian 
kingship  in  the  twelfth  and  thirteenth  centuries,  see  above,  pp.  35  ff. 


were  to  continue  for  some  time,  the  realm  would  decline. 
There  surely  must  be  instances  of  such  an  issue,  and  we 
may  safely  conclude  that  wherever  such  events  come  to 
pass,  there  will  be  much  evil  and  manifold  misfortunes 
before  they  cease.  I  also  see  clearly  that  if  the  morals  or 
laws  of  a  kingdom  are  undermined  by  such  troubles  as 
you  have  described,  even  though  God  should  purpose  to 
rescue  it  finally  from  distress  and  unpeace  and  bring 
it  again  under  one  ruler  after  such  troublous  times,  the 
people  who  survive  are  likely  to  be  both  wicked  and 
vicious;  and  there  will  surely  be  need,  as  you  have  said, 
of  good  instruction  and  at  times  even  of  very  severe 
punishment.  Furthermore,  even  if  the  kingdom  did  pos- 
sess tolerable  morals  for  a  time  before  the  unpeace  came, 
he  who  is  to  undertake  the  government,  though  he  be 
very  wise,  will  need  to  use  great  determination  and 
severity  for  a  long  period,  if  the  realm  is  to  be  replaced 
on  its  earlier  footing. 

I  have  been  deeply  interested  in  your  discussion  of 
what  may  bring  the  greatest  damage  to  a  kingdom  (and 
it  may  be  rendered  worthless  through  loss  of  morals, 
population,  and  wealth,  if  such  conditions  should  arise) ; 
and  I  have  now  been  sufficiently  informed  as  to  how 
matters  may  shape  themselves,  if  misfortune  means  to 
come;  and  I  see  clearly  what  great  losses  and  damage 
may  follow  such  events.  Now  it  seems  to  me  that  we 
have  dwelt  rather  long  upon  facts  which  must  bring  dis- 
tress to  everyone  who  wishes  to  be  reputed  a  moral  man 
(wherefore  all,  both  rich  and  poor,  should  implore  the 
Lord  to  let  no  such  times  come  in  their  days),  and  I  will 
therefore  return  to  what  I  began  with  and  ask  you  to 


point  out  the  manners  and  customs  which  you  think 
would  be  becoming  to  me,  if  I  were  employed  in  the 
royal  service,  no  matter  what  times  might  come,  though 
I  will  pray  the  Lord  that  as  long  as  I  live  there  may  be 
peace  and  quiet  and  prosperous  times. 

Father.  No  one  knows  how  God  will  order  such  things 
during  the  days  of  any  man's  lifetimer*But  if  a  man 

V  —  --  — 

determines  to  be  a  kingsman  and  there  happens  to  be 
much  distress  and  many  disasters  at  the  time  because 
of  too  many  rulers  or  unpeace  in  some  form,  he  must 
be  careful  to  join  the  service  of  the  one  who  has  obtained 
the  power  in  the  most  legal  manner  and  is  most  likely 
to  observe  the  customs  that  rightful  and  well-bred  kings 
have  observed  before  his  day.^Ie  is  then  least  likely  to 
incur  danger  in  accounting  for  his  service,  whether  he 
be  called  to  account  in  this  world  or  in  the  next.  But 
you  have  asked  what  customs  you  should  observe  if  you 
were  bound  to  a  royal  service,  and  on  that  point  I  can 
very  well  inform  you. 

This  should  be  the  first  principle  of  all  your  conduct, 
never  to  let  your  heart  be  wanting  in  reverence  and 
fear  of  God,  to  love  him  above  everything  else,  and  next 

to  him  to  love  rihteousness.  Train 

upright,  and  temperate  in  all  things 

mind  the  day  of  death  and  guard  carefully  against  vices. 
yRemember  that  many  a  man  lives  but  a  brief  time,  y      ''<*   fiffy 
while  his  deeds  live  long  after  him;  and  it  is  of  great  f>    4*.  ^     ^ 
importance  what  is  remembered  about  him^Some  have    \ 
reached  fame  through  good  deeds,  and  these  always 
live  after  them,  for  one's  honor  lives  forever,  though 
the  man  himself  be  dead.  Some  win  fame  by  evil  deeds 



and  these  men,  though  they  be  dead,  bear  a  burden  of 
lasting  disgrace  when  their  deeds  are  recalled/ their 
kinsmen,  too,  and  all  their  descendants  after  their  days 
have  to  bear  the  same  dishonor^]  Those,  however,  are 
most  numerous  who  drop  away  like  cattle  and  are  re- 
membered neither  for  good  nor  for  evil;  but  you  shall 
know  of  a  truth  that  such  is  surely  not  the  purpose  of 
mankind;  for  all  other  creatures  were  made  for  the 
pleasure  and  subsistence  of  man,  while  man  was  created 
to  enjoy  the  glories  of  both  this  and  the  other  world,  if 
he  is  to  realize  the  purpose  of  his  creation.  ^Every  one, 
therefore,  while  he  still  lives,  should  strive  to  leave  a 
few  such  deeds  after  him  as  will  cause  him  to  be  re- 
membered with  favor  after  he  has  departed  this  life. 
But  this  is  above  all  the  duty  of  kings  and  other  mighty 
chiefs  and  of  all  those  who  seek  their  society  and  eivter 
their  service;  for  after  that  a  man  is  no  longer  looked 
upon  as  a  churl,  but  is  honored  as  a  governor  or  a  chief; 
and  thus  he  ought  to  be  honored,  if  he  strives  to  observe 
the  customs  that  are  becoming  to  himself  and  his  dig- 

Take  heed  lest  you  vacillate  in  friendship  among 
several  chiefs,  as  fickle  men  do;  for  no  one  who  acts  thus 
can  be  firm  in  purpose.(Love  your  lord  highly  and  with- 
ut  guile  as  long  as  you  stay  in  his  service,  and  never 

ek  the  society  or  the  confidence  of  his  enemies,  if  you 
wish  to  remain  a  man  of  honor?£Above  your  lord  you 
must  love  God  alone,  but  no  other  manTj  These  are  the 

ings  that  you  must  especially  avoid,  lest  they  bring 
you  an  evil  name:  perjury  and  false  testimony,  brothels, 
drinking  bouts^  except  in  the  king's  house  or  in  decent 



gatherings,  casting  dice  for  silver,  lust  after  bribes,  and  / 
all  other  evil  covetousness;  for  these  things  are  a  great 
disgrace  to  every  kingsman  in  this  world  and  his  soul 
will  be  in  peril  in  the  other  world,  if  he  is  found  guilty 
of  such  vices. [Never  j^etjlrunk,  wherever  you  are;  for 
it  may  fall  out  at  any  time  that  you  will  be  summoned 
to  hear  a  dispute  or  to  supervise  something,  or  that 
you  will  have  important  business  of  your  own  to  look 
after.  Now  if  such  demands  should  come  to  a  man  while 
he  is  drunk,  he  will  be  found  wholly  incompetent; 
wherefore  drunkenness  should  be  avoided  by  everyone, 
and  most  of  all  by  kingsmen  and  others  who  wish  to  be 
reputed  as  worthy  men,  for  such  are  most  frequently 
called  to  hear  suits  at  law  and  to  other  important  duties.} 
Moreover,  they  ought  to  set  good  examples  for  all,  as 
some  may  wish  to  learn  decorum  from  their  behavior. 

If  you  are  a  kingsman  you  must  observe  the  same 
prudence  in  your  address  and  habits,  and  do  not  forget 
this.   You  should  frequently  be  seen  in  your  lord's        p   i 
presence/JEarly  in  the  morning  you  must  escort  him  to  7 
church,  if  he  observes  that  custom,  as  by  right  he  ought  V" 
to  do  Jlisten  attentively  to  the  service  while  you  are  in-/ 
the  church,  and  call  devoutly  upon  God  for  mercy. 
When  the  king  leaves  the  church,  join  him  at  once  and 
keep  sufficiently  near  him  to  be  in  sight,  so  that  he  may 
be  able  to  call  you  for  any  purpose,  if  he  should  wish  to 
do  so.  But  do  not  keep  so  close  to  him  as  to  make  him 
feel  annoyed  by  your  presence,  when  he  wishes  to  speak 
with  men  whom  he  has  called  to  converse  with  him,  or 
to  discuss  such  matters  as  he  wishes  to  keep  secret. 
Never  show  an  interest  in  those  affairs  which  you  see 


that  your  lord  wishes  to  keep  to  himself,  unless  he  sum- 
mons you  to  share  knowledge  with  him.  But  if  anything 
should  come  up  that  your  lord  confides  to  you  but  wishes 
to  have  kept  secret,  keep  it  carefully  in  discreet  silence; 
do  not  babble  about  such  affairs  as  should  be  hidden  in 
your  fidelity. 

You  must  also  make  a  habit  of  going  to  the  royal 
apartments  early  in  the  morning  before  the  king  has 
arisen;  but  be  sure  to  come  carefully  washed  and  bathed 
and  wearing  your  best  raiment;  and  wait  near  the  king's 
chamber  until  he  has  arisen.  Go  into  the  king's  cham- 
ber if  he  calls  you,  but  at  no  other  time;  but  wherever 
it  is  that  the  king  summons  you,  you  must  come  into 
his  presence  without  your  mantle.  If  it  is  early  in  the 
morning  and  you  have  not  seen  him  before,  wish  him 
a  good  day  in  the  words  that  I  have  already  taught  you ; 
but  approach  only  so  near  as  to  leave  him  sufficient 
room  to  confer  with  the  men  who  are  nearest  to  him, 
and  remain  standing  there.  But  if  he  calls  you  to  come 
nearer,  wishing  to  speak  with  you  in  private,  then  kneel 
before  him  but  only  so  near  that  you  can  readily  hear 
f  his  words;  and  come  without  your  mantle. (Ho wever,Jf 
•vi  ~  he  invites  you  to  be  seated,  you  may  put  on  your  cloak, 

C     if  you  like,  and  be  seated  where  he  indicates/] 

Now  when  it  happens  that  the  king  goes  out  to  seek 
diversion,  whether  it  be  in  town  or  in  the  country,  or 
wherever  he  is  sojourning,  and  you  and  your  comrades 
accompany  him,  the  retinue  looks  best,  whether  you 
are  armed  or  not,  if  you  walk  in  equal  numbers  on  either 
side  of  the  king,  though  never  in  compact  groups. 
Wherever  you  go  he  should  walk  in  your  midst,  and 


you  and  your  companions  should  be  arranged  in  equal 
numbers  before  and  behind  him  and  on  either  side.  But 
none  oi-you -must  walk  so  near  the  king  that  he  has  not 
sufficient  space  to  converse  with  those  whom  he  sum- 
inons  to  him,  whether  he  wishes  to  speak  with  them 
openly  or  in  private.  And  even  though  he  call  no  one  to 
have  speech  with  him,  keep  the  order  such  that  there  is 
plenty  of  space  around  him  on  all  sides.  But  when  the 
king  rides  out  for  amusement  and  you  and  your  com- 
rades accompany  him,  arrange  the  order  of  riding  in  the 
way  that  I  have  suggested  about  your  walking;  only 
keep  at  a  greater  distance,  so  that  no  dirt  can  splash 
from  your  horses  upon  the  king,  even  though  you  ride 
quite  rapidly. 

If  the  king  should  call  you  by  name,  be  careful  notA         ^ 
to  answer  by  "  Eh  ?  "  or  "  Hm  ?  "  or  "  What  ?  "  but  ) 
rather  speak  in  this  wise:  "  Yes,  my  lord,  I  am  glad  to/ 
listen  !  "  Also  take  good  heed  not  to  rush  away  early 
in  the  morning  to  eat  and  drink  with  greedy  and  un- 
mannerly men^Wait,  as  custom  demands,  till  the  king's 
meal  time,  and  take  your  seat  at  the  royal  tables,  when- 
ever you  are  present  at  court^But  when  the  king  sits 
down  to  eat  with  his  hirdmen,  these  ought  all  to  observe 
good  manners  and  decent  order,  and  the  one  should 
never  run  in  ahead  of  the  other  like  an  ill-bred  man; 
but  each  ought  to  know  his  right  place  and  table  com- 
panion ;  and  the  men  should  sit  at  the  table  in  the  same 
order  as  when  they  are  out  walking.  The  men  should 
go  by  twos,  those  who  sit  .together fio  lave  their  hands,   7 
whether  the  washing  is  done  within  the  hall  or  without^?  j 
and  then  to  the  table,  each  in  the  order  and  to  the  seat 



that  he  knows  was  assigned  to  him  in  the  beginning. 
The  hirdmen  ought  to  speak  in  a  low  tone  at  the  table^ 
so  that  not  a  single  word  will  be  heard  by  those  who 
sit  on  either  side  of  the  two  who  wish  to  converse;  let 
each  one  speak  to  his  partner  so  softly  that  none  shall 
hear  but  those  who  are  conversing;  then  there  will  be 
good  deportment  and  quiet  in  the  king's  hall.  You  may, 
however,  partake  freely  and  quickly  of  both  thejood 
and  the  drink  on  the  table  according  to  your  needs  with- 
out suffering  any  discredit  to  your  manners;  but  always 
take  good  heed  not  to  get  drunk  ^You  should  cast  fre- 
quent glances  toward  the  king's  seat  to  see  how  his 
service  is  going  forward,  and  always  note  carefully  when 
the  king  raises  the  beaker  to  his  lips,  for  you  must  not 
eat  while  he  is  drinking.  If  you  have  a  cup  in  your  hand, 
set  it  down  and  do  not  drink  just  then.|You  must  show 
M  the  queen  everywhere  the  same  honor  as  you  show  the 
'  king  according  as  I  have  told  you^And  if  the  king  has 
a  guest  at  his  table  who  ought  to  be  shown  the  same 
deference,  whether  he  be  a  king,  an  earl,  an  archbishop, 
or  a  bishop  ,~7you  should  observe  these  same  customs 
which  I  have  just  taught  you.  However,  if  the  number 
of  distinguished  people  at  the  royal  table  should  be 
large,  you  need  not  observe  this  custom  as  to  drinking 
unless  you  wish,  except  when  the  king  or  the  queen 
drinks,  or  when  there  is  another  king  at  the  table  with 

Now  if  the  king's  hirdmen  happen  to  be  seated  to- 
gether in  the  royal  hall  but  with  no  tables  before  them 
and  certain  lords  come  in  whom  the  king  is  pleased  to 
receive  with  honor,  it  is  the  duty  of  all  men  to  rise  be- 


fore  them  just  as  before  their  own  lords  and  to  give 
them  such  cordial  greetings  as  they  know  that  the  king 
desires.  But  this  is  an  honor  which  every  kingsman  owes 
to  his  fellows:  when  one  who  has  been  absent  comes  in 
and  walks  toward  the  seat  where  he  has  his  proper  place 
and  position,  the  two  who  sit  nearest  to  him  on  either 
side  should  rise,  receive  him  in  a  friendly  manner,  and 
bid  him  welcome  among  them.  Wherever  the  kingsmen 
are  much  in  the  eyes  of  other  men,  whether  they  sit 
together  at  a  feast,  or  walk  in  the  king's  escort,  or  go 
out  together  to  make  merry,  they  ought  always  to 
speak  in  rather  low  tones,  to  be  proper  in  their  actions 
and  elegant  in  their  speech,  and  to  avoid  all  indecent 
talk.  All  these  rules  which  I  have  now  recounted  must 
be  learned  and  observed  by  all  kingsmen  who  wish  to 
be  known  for  good  breeding.  But  no  matter  ho  weathers 
behave^  be  sure  that  you  observe  carefully  all  that  I 
have  taught  you,  and  be  willing  to  teach  others  who 
may  wish  to  learn  from  you. 

X~  Now  if  your  comrades  are  planning  to  go  from  the 
/  king's  apartments  to  some  drinkin^Jioiit  or  other  merry- 
making^ and  you,  too,  [have  the  king's  permission  to  ? 
seek  diversion^Jyou  should  jgrejer_the  forms  of  amuse-  x 
ment  which  I  shall  now  point  out  to  you.  If  you  are  so- 
journing where  horses  may  be  ridden  and  you  have  your 
own  horse,  put  on  heavy  armor  and,  mounting  your 
horse,  {train  ^yourself  in  the  art  of  sitting  on  horseback  (/ 
_in  the  firmest  and  most  handsome  manner jTrain  your--> 
self  to  press  the  foot  firmly  into  the  stirrup;  keep  your 
leg  stiff  and  the  heel  a  little  lower  than  the  toes,  except 
when  you  have  to  guard  against  thrusts  from  the  front; 


/  ut 

and  practice  sitting  firmly  with  the  thighs  pressed  close. 
Cover  your  breast  and  limbs  carefully  with  a  curved 
shield.  Train  your  left  hand  to  grasp  firmly  the  bridle 
and  the  grip  of  the  shield,  and  your  right  hand  to  direct 
the  spear-thrust  so  that  all  your  bodily  strength  will 
support  it.  Train  your  good  steed  to  veer  about  when 
in  full  gallop;  keep  him  clean  and  in  good  condition; 
keep  him  shod  firmly  and  well,  and  provide  him  with  a 
strong  and  handsome  harness. 

But  if  you  are  in  a  borough  or  some  such  place_where 
horses  cannot  be  used  for  recreation,  you  should  take 
up  this  form  of  amusement:  go  to  your  chambers  and 
put  on  heavy  armor;  next  look  up  some  fellow  hench- 
man (he  may  be  a  native  or  an  alien)  who  likes  to  drill 
with  you  and  whom  you  know  to  be  well  trained  to 
fight  behind  a  shield  or  a  buckler.  Always  bring  heavy 
armor  to  this  exercise,  either  chain-mail  or  a  thick  gam- 
ison,*  and  carry  a  heavy  sword  and  a  weighty  shield 
or  buckler  in  your  hand. [in  this  game  you  should  strive 
to  learn  suitable  thrusts  and  such  counterstrokes  JLS_  are 
good,  necessary,  and  convenientJLearn  precisely  how 
to  cover  yourself  with  the  shield,  so  that  you  may  be 
able  to  guard  well  when  you  have  to  deal  with  a  foeman. 
If  you  feel  that  it  is  important  to  be  well  trained  in  these 
activities,  go  through  the  exercise  twice  a  day,  if  it  is 
convenient;  but  let  no  day  pass,  except  holidays,  with- 
out practicing  this  drill  at  least  once;[for  it  is  counted 

*  The  gambison  (panzari)  was  a  form  of  defensive  armor  made  of  cloth 
padded  and  quilted.  It  is  described  on  page  217  as  being  made  "  of  soft  linen 
thoroughly  blackened."  Usually  it  was  worn  under  the  coat  of  mail,  but  it 
could  also  be  worn  outside.  See  Annalerfor  nordisk  Oldkyndighed,  1867,  74  ff. 
(Blom.);  Falk,  Altnordische  Waffenkunde,  181-182. 


proper  for  all  kingsmen  to  master  this  art  and,  more-  7 
bver,  it  must  be  mastered  if  it  is  to  be  of  servicejlf  the  -5 
drill  tires  you  and  makes  you  thirsty,  drink  a  little  now 
and  then,  enough  to  quench  your  thirst;  but  while  the 
game  is  on,  be  careful  not  to  drink  till  you  are  drunk  or 
even  merry. 

If  you  should  like  to  try  a  variety  of  drills  and  pas- 
times, there  are  certain  sports  that  one  can  take  up  out 
of  doors,  if  that  is  thought  more  diverting.  For  one 
thing,  you  may  have  a  pole  prepared,  somewhat  heavier 
than  a  spear  shaft,  and  put  up  a  mark  some  distance 
away  for  a  target;  with  these  you  can  determine  how  far 
and  how  accurately  you  can  throw  a  spear  and  do  it  effec-         Jcc»»  / 
tively.  It  is  also  counted  rare  sport  and  pastime  to  take    N      ~^f>      i 
one's  bow  and  go  with  other  men  to  practice  archery.      / 
Another  pleasant  and  useful  diversion  is  to  practice 
throwing  with  a  sling  both  for  distance  and  for  accuracy, 
and  with  a  staff  sling  *  as  well  as  with  a  hand  sling,  and 
to  practice  throwing  stone  missiles.  Formerly  the  cus- 
tom was  for  all  who  wished  to  become  expert  in  such 
arts  and  thoroughly  proficient  in  war  and  chivalry  to     / 
train  both  hands  alike  to  the  use  of  weapons.  Strive 
after  the  same  skill,  if  you  find  yourself  gifted  for  it,    / 
inasmuch  as  those  who  are  trained  in  that  way  are  the   / 
most  perfect  in  these  activities  and  the  most  dangerous  / 
to  their  enemies. 

You  should  abhor  and  avoid  manslaying  in  every 
form  except  as  a  lawful  punishment  or  in  common  war- 
fare. But  in  ordinary  warfare  on  the  lawful  command 

*  The  staff  sling  was  a  sling  fastened  to  the  end  of  a  stick;  it  was  an  earlier 
form  which  was  not  used  much  in  the  thirteenth  century. 


of  your  chief,  you  need  to  shun  manslaying  no  more 
than  any  other  deed  which  you  know  to  be  right  and 
good.  Show  courage  and  bravery  in  battle;  fight  with 
proper  and  effective  blows,  such  as  you  have  already 
learned,  as  if  in  the  best  of  humor,  though  filled  with 
noble  wrath.  Never  fight  with  feigned  strokes,  needless 
thrusts,  or  uncertain  shots  like  a  frightened  man.  Heed 
these  things  well  that  you  may  be  able  to  match  your 
opponent's  skill  in  fighting.  Be  resolute  in  combat  but 
not  hot-headed  and  least  of  all  boastful.  Always  re- 
member that  there  may  be  those  who  can  give  good 
testimony  in  your  behalf:  but  never  praise  vonr  own 
deeds,  lest  after  a  time  it  should  come  to  piass  that  jrou 
are  pursued  for  the  slaughter  of  men  whose  death  js^ 
\  rated  a  great  loss  and  the  revenge  is  directed  toward 

you  by  your  ownjords. 

If  you  are  fighting  on  foot  in  a  land  battle  and  are 
placed  at  the  point  of  a  wedge-shaped  column,*  it  is 
very  important  to  watch  the  closed  shield  line  in  the 
first  onset,  lest  it  become  disarranged  or  broken.  Take 
heed  never  to  bind  the  front  edge  of  your  shield  under 
that  of  another,  f  You  must  also  be  specially  careful, 
when  in  the  battle  line,  never  to  throw  your  spear,  un- 
less you  have  two,  for  in  battle  array  on  land  one  spear 
is  more  effective  than  two  swords.  But  if  the  fight  is  on 
shipboard,  select  two  spears  which  are  not  to  be  thrown, 
one  with  a  shaft  long  enough  to  reach  easily  from  ship 

baped  column  (jtfc^yOaif ,  perhaps  so  named  from  a  fancied 
;  to  a  boar's  head)  was  a  common  form  of  battle  array  among  the 
Northern  peoples  as  wd  as  among  the  early  Germans  generally. 
t  As  the  shield  was  bora  on  the  kft  arm,  the  front  edge  would  be  the  right 


to  ship  and  one  with  a  shorter  shaft,  which  you  will  find 
particularly  serviceable  when  you  try  to  board  the 
enemy's  ship.  Various  kinds  of  darts  should  be  kept  on 
ships,  both  heavy  javelins  and  lighter  ones.  Try  to 
strike  your  opponent's  shield  with  a  heavy  javelin,  and 
if  the  shield  glides  aside,  attack  him  with  a  light  javelin, 
unless  you  are  able  to  reach  him  with  a  long-shafted 
spear.  Fight  on  sea  as  on  land  with  an  even  temper  and 
with  proper  strokes  only;  and  never  waste_yoiir  weapons 
by  hurling  them  to  no  purpose. 

Weapons  of  many  sorts  may  be  used  to  advantage  on 
shipboard,  which  one  has  no  occasion  to  use  on  land, 
except  in  a  fortress  or  castle.  Longhandled  scythes  *  and 
long-shafted  broadaxes,t  "  war-beams  "  and  staff  slings, 
darts,  {  and  missiles  of  every  sort  are  serviceable  on 
ships.  Crossbows  and  longbows  are  useful  as  well  as  all 
other  forms  of  shooting  weapons;  but  coal  and  sulphur  § 
are,  however,  the  most  effective  munitions  of  all  that  I 
have  named.  Caltrops  ;  cast  in  lead  and  good  halberds  ^ 
are  also  effective  weapons  on  shipboard.  A  tower  joined 

*  These  scythes  were  apparently  used  to  catch  and  hold  the  1 

perhaps  also  to  cot  the  ropes  on  the  ship.  See  the  Soro  etfition, 

t  The  broadai  (tfajfux)  had  the  blade  extended  backward  somewhat  like 


See  Falk,  Ataordudte  Wa/emtmmde,  108-110. 

I  Skfpti/UUa:  a  dart  of  some  sort  with  a  cord  attached. 

§  Coal  and  suphur  seem  to  have  been  used  chiefly  to  fire  the  enemy's  ship. 

||  Caltrops  were  instruments  provided  with  iron  prongs  and  were  usually 

scattered  where  the  enemy's  horsemen  were  likely  to  pass,  in  the  hope  of 

manning  the  horses.  It  is  evident  that  they  were  also  used  in  naval  warfare, 

the  purpose  being  to  maim  the  men  on  the  enemy's  deck.  See  the  Soro  edition. 

f  Aigwr.  The  translation  is  doubtful  but  it  seems  dear  that  some  kind  of 
spear  useful  for  striking  as  wcfl  as  for  thrusting  is  meant.  See  Falk, 
dixke  Wtfemtnie,  81-OL 


to  the  mast  *  will  be  serviceable  along  with  these  and 
many  other  defenses,  as  is  also  a  beam  cloven  into  four 
parts  and  set  with  prongs  of  hard  steel, f  which  is  drawn 
up  against  the  mast.  A  "  prow-boar"  J  with  an  ironclad 
snout  is  also  useful  in  naval  battles.  But  it  is  well  for 
men  to  be  carefully  trained  in  handling  these  before 
they  have  to  use  them;  for  one  knows  neither  the  time 
nor  the  hour  when  he  shall  have  to  make  use  of  any 
particular  kind  of  weapons.  But  take  good  heed  to  col- 
lect as  many  types  of  weapons  as  possible,  while  you 
still  have  no  need  of  them;  for  it  is  always  a  distinction 
to  have  good  weapons,  and,  furthermore,  they  are  a 
good  possession  in  times  of  necessity  when  one  has  to 
use  them.  For  a  ship's  defense  the  following  arrange- 
ment is  necessary:  it  should  be  fortified  strongly  with 
beams  and  logs  built  up  into  a  high  rampart,  through 
which  there  should  be  four  openings,  each  so  large  and 
wide  that  one  or  two  men  in  full  armor  can  leap  through 
them;  but  outside  and  along  the  rampart  on  both  sides 
of  the  ship  there  should  he  laid  a  level  walk  of  planks 
to  stand  upon.§  This  breastwork  must  be  firmly  and 

*  Probably  some  sort  of  a  cage  placed  at  the  top  or  near  the  top  of  the  mast 
from  which  men  with  bows  and  slings  could  fight  to  better  advantage.  See 
Aarboger  for  nordisk  Oldkyndighed,  1872,  242;  Falk,  Altnordische  Waffen- 
kunde,  197. 

t  Only  one  end  of  the  beam  was  cloven  in  this  way.  See  the  Sorb  edition,  394- 
395.  The  beam  was  apparently  fastened  to  the  mast  and  used  to  crush  the 
sides  of  the  enemy's  ship  in  much  the  same  way  as  the  ram  was  used  against 
a  castle  wall.  See  Talk,  Altnordische  Waffenkunde,  199. 
J  The  prow-boar  (rdftrgoltr)  was  not  a  beak  but  apparently  some  device 
fastened  to  the  prow  which  served  much  the  same  purpose,  namely  to  run 
down  and  sink  an  opposing  ship.  See  the  Soro  edition,  395-396;  Falk,  Altnor- 
dische Waffenkunde,  198-199. 

§  See  the  Soro  edition,  397-399;  Falk,  Altnordische  Waffenkunde,  196.  This 
rampart  was  built  of  logs  and  planks  and  raised  on  the  gunwales.  Sometimes 


carefully  braced  so  that  it  cannot  be  shaken  though 
one  leaps  violently  upon  it.  Wide  shields  and  chain  mail 
of  every  sort  are  good  defensive  weapons  on  shipboard; 
the  chief  protection,  however,  is  the  gambison  made  of 
soft  linen  thoroughly  blackened,  good  helmets,  and  low 
caps  of  steel.  There  are  many  other  weapons  that  can 
be  used  in  naval  fights,  but  it  seems  needless  to  discuss 
more  than  those  which  I  have  now  enumerated. 



Son.  Since  we  now  have  before  us  a  discussion  which 
teaches  chiefly  how  a  man  must  prepare  himself  to  meet 
his  enemies  in  attack  and  defense,  it  seems  to  me  that 
it  would  be  well  to  say  something  about  how  one  has 
to  fight  on  land,  on  horse  or  on  foot,  and  in  attacking 
and  defending  castles.  Therefore,  if  you  feel  disposed 
to  say  anything  about  such  matters,  I  shall  be  glad  to 

Father.  The  man  who  is  to  fight  on  horseback  needs 
to  make  sure,  as  we  have  already  stated,  that  he  is 
thoroughly  trained  in  all  the  arts  of  mounted  warfare. 
For  his  horse  he  will  need  to  provide  this  equipment:  * 
he  must  keep  him  carefully  and  firmly  shod;  he  must 
also  make  sure  that  the  saddle  is  strong,  made  with  high 
bows,  and  provided  with  strong  girths  and  other  saddle- 
it  seems  to  have  been  placed  along  the  entire  length  of  the  ship,  but  often, 
perhaps,  only  where  the  ship  was  lowest.  Inside  it  was  braced  with  strong 
beams.  The  plank  walk  on  the  outside  projected  over  the  edge  of  the  ship  and 
was  no  doubt  in  part  intended  to  make  it  difficult  for  the  enemy  to  board  it. 
*  On  the  equipment  of  the  horse  in  medieval  warfare,  see  Aarbogerfor  nordisk 
Oldkyndighed,  1867,  90-97. 


gear,  including  a  durable  surcingle  across  the  middle 
and  a  breast  strap  in  front.*  The  horse  should  be  pro- 
tected in  such  a  way  both  in  front  of  the  saddle  and  be- 
hind it  that  he  will  not  be  exposed  to  weapons,  spear 
thrust  or  stroke,  or  any  other  form  of  attack.  He  should 
also  have  a  good  shabrack  f  made  like  a  gambison  of 
soft  and  thoroughly  blackened  linen  cloth,  for  this  is  a 
good  protection  against  all  kinds  of  weapons.  It  may  be 
decorated  as  one  likes,  and  over  the  shabrack  there 
should  be  a  good  harness  of  mail.  With  this  equipment 
every  part  of  the  horse  should  be  covered,  head,  loins, 
breast,  belly,  and  the  entire  beast,  so  that  no  man,  even  if 
on  foot,  shall  be  able  to  reach  him  with  deadly  weapons. 
The  horse  should  have  a  strong  bridle,  one  that  can  be 
gripped  firmly  and  used  to  rein  him  in  or  throw  him  when 
necessary.  Over  the  bridle  and  about  the  entire  head  of 
the  horse  and  around  the  neck  back  to  the  saddle,  there 
should  be  a  harness  made  like  a  gambison  of  firm  linen 
cloth,  so  that  no  man  shall  be  able  to  take  away  the 
bridle  or  the  horse  by  stealth. t 

*  In  the  thirteenth  century  the  saddle  was  made  with  high  bows  before  and 
behind  so  as  to  provide  a  firmer  seat  for  the  rider.  The  surcingle  was  a  girth 
drawn  over  the  saddle;  the  breast  strap  served  to  keep  the  saddle  from  slip- 
ping backwards.  Aarboger  for  nor  disk  Oldkyndighed,  91. 
f  Kovertur,  from  medieval  French  couverture.  But  the  couverture  was  not  a 
covering  worn  underneath,  the  mail;  it  was  probably  the  mail  itself  or  an 
outer  covering  for  the  horse.  See  Falk,  Altnordische  Waffenkunde,  191. 
J  Falk  believes  that  this  description  is  in  some  respects  inaccurate.  No  such 
elaborate  equipment  could  have  been  used  in  the  North  where  cavalry  was 
not  an  important  part  of  the  host  in  the  thirteenth  century.  He  also  doubts 
that  an  equipment  just  like  the  one  described  was  in  use  anywhere  in  Europe 
at  the  time.  Ibid.,  190-191.  The  medieval  couverture  was  not  placed  beneath 
the  covering  of  mail  as  the  Speculum  Regale  states;  and  Falk  can  see  no 
reason  why  a  gambison  placed  beneath  the  mail  should  be  ornamented. 
It  seems  clear  that  the  author  is  somewhat  confused  as  to  these  various 


The  rider  himself  should  be  equipped  in  this  wise: 
he  should  wear  good  soft  breeches  made  of  soft  and 
thoroughly  blackened  linen  cloth,  which  should  reach 
up  to  the  belt;  outside  these,  good  mail  hose*  which 
should  come  up  high  enough  to  be  girded  on  with  a 
double  strap;  over  these  he  must  have  good  trousers 
made  of  linen  cloth  of  the  sort  that  I  have  already 
described ;  finally,  over  these  he  should  have  good  knee- 
pieces  made  of  thick  iron  and  rivets  hard  as  steel. f  Above 
and  next  to  the  body  he  should  wear  a  soft  gambison, 
which  need  not  come  lower  than  to  the  middle  of  the 
thigh.  Over  this  he  must  have  a  strong  breastplate  { 
made  of  good  iron  covering  the  body  from  the  nipples  to 
the  trousers  belt ;  outside  this,  a  well-made  hauberk  and 
over  the  hauberk  a  firm  gambison  made  in  the  manner 
which  I  have  already  described  but  without  sleeves.  He 
must  have  a  dirk  §  and  two  swords,  one  girded  on  and 
another  hanging  from  the  pommel  of  the  saddle.  On  his 
head  he  must  have  a  dependable  helmet  made  of  good 
steel  and  provided  with  a  visor.  ||  He  must  also  have  a 
strong,  thick  shield  fastened  to  a  durable  shoulder  belt 
and,  in  addition,  a  good  sharp  spear  with  a  firm  shaft 
and  pointed  with  fine  steel.  Now  it  seems  needless  to 

*  The  mail  hose  were  made  of  chain  mail.  Aarboger  for  nordisk  Oldkyndighed, 

1867,  73-74. 

f  The  kneepieces>  or  genouilleres  were  pieces  of  armor  worn  to  protect  the 


t  Blom  thinks  that  the  breastplate  was  a  new  thing  in  the  thirteenth  century 

(ibid.,  76),  but  Falk  believes  that  it  was  used  quite  generally  (Altnordische 

Wqffenkunde,  182). 

§  The  dirk  (brynknifr)  was  probably  a  poniard-like  weapon  used  to  pierce  the 

chain  mail  at  the  joints.  Falk,  Altnordische  Waffenkunde,  124. 

1 1  The  helmet  with  the  visor  appears  in  the  illustrations  of  the  closing  years  of 

the  twelfth  century;  the  earlier  helmet  was  a  steel  cap  with  a  nose  guard. 

Aarboger  for  nordisk  Oldkyndighed,  83-84. 


speak  further  about  the  equipment  of  men  who  fight 
on  horseback;  there  are,  however,  other  weapons  which 
a  mounted  warrior  may  use,  if  he  wishes;  among  these 
are  the  "  horn  bow  "  *  and  the  weaker  crossbow,  which 
a  man  can  easily  draw  even  when  on  horseback,  and 
certain  other  weapons,  too,  if  he  should  want  them. 



Son.  Inasmuch  as  you  seem  to  think  that  you  have 
described  most  of  the  weapons  which  are  convenient  to 
have  in  naval  warfare  or  in  fighting  on  horseback,  I  will 
now  ask  you  to  say  something  about  those  which  you 
think  are  most  effective  in  besieging  or  defending  castles. 

Father.  All  the  weapons  that  we  have  just  discussed 
as  useful  on  ships  or  on  horseback  can  also  be  used  in 
attacking  and  defending  castles;  but  there  are  many 
other  kinds.  If  one  is  to  attack  a  castle  with  the  weapons 
which  I  have  enumerated,  he  will  also  have  need  of 
trebuckets :  f  a  few  powerful  ones  with  which  to  throw 
large  rocks  against  stone  walls  to  determine  whether 
they  are  able  to  resist  such  violent  blows,  and  weaker 
trebuckets  for  throwing  missiles  over  the  walls  to  de- 
molish the  houses  within  the  castle.  But  if  one  is  unable 
to  break  down  or  shatter  a  stone  wall  with  trebuckets, 

*  Little  seems  to  be  known  about  the  hornbow.  Captain  Blom  finds  it  men- 
tioned in  the  Latin  sources  as  balista  cornea  or  balista  cum  cornu.  Aarbogerfor 
nordisk  Oldkyndighed,  1867,  100-101.  Falk  believes  that  it  was  a  bow  which 
was  reinforced  on  the  inner  side  with  horn.  Altnordische  Waffenkunde,  91-92. 
f  The  trebucket  (French  trebuchef)  was  a  siege  engine  which  came  into  use  in 
the  twelfth  century;  it  was  worked  by  counterpoises.  For  a  description  see 
Oman,  Art  of  War,  143-144;  Aarboger  for  nordisk  Oldkyndighed,  1867,  103- 
104;  Falk,  Altnordische  Waffenkunde,  193-194. 


he  will  have  to  try  another  engine,  namely  the  iron- 
headed  ram,*  for  very  few  stone  walls  can  withstand 
its  attack.  If  this  engine  fails  to  batter  down  or  shake 
the  wall,  it  may  be  advisable  to  set  the  cat  f  to  work. 
A  tower  raised  on  wheels  J  is  useful  in  besieging  castles, 
if  it  is  constructed  so  that  it  rises  above  the  wall  which 
is  to  be  stormed,  even  though  the  difference  in  height 
be  only  seven  ells;  but  the  higher  it  is,  the  more  effective 
it  will  be  in  attacking  another  tower.  Scaling  ladders  on 
wheels  which  may  be  moved  backward  and  forward  are 
also  useful  for  this  purpose,  if  they  are  boarded  up  un- 
derneath and  have  good  ropes  on  both  sides.  And  we 
may  say  briefly  about  this  craft,  that  in  besieging  castles 
use  will  be  found  for  all  sorts  of  military  engines.  But 
whoever  wishes  to  join  in  this  must  be  sure  that  he 
knows  precisely  even  to  the  very  hour  when  he  shall 
have  need  for  each  device. 

Those  who  have  to  defend  a  castle  may  also  make  use 
of  these  weapons  which  I  have  now  enumerated  and 
many  more:  trebuckets  both  large  and  small,  hand 
slings  and  staff  slings.  They  will  find  crossbows  and 
other  bows,  too,  very  effective,  as  well  as  every  other 

*  The  ram  was  a  massive  beam  used  to  batter  down  walls;  it  was  an  in- 
heritance from  antiquity  and  was  much  in  use.  See  Oman,  Art  of  War,  132; 
Aarboger  for  nordisk  Oldkyndighed,  1867,  104;  Falk,  Altnordische  Waffen- 
kunde,  198. 

f  Grafsvin.  Falk  translates  this  with  "  badger  "  and  seems  to  believe  that  it 
was  a  shelter  on  wheels  under  which  the  attackers  might  work  in  compara- 
tive safety.  Altnordische  Waffenkunde,  196.  It  is  more  likely,  however,  that  a 
"cat"  is  meant.  The  cat  was  a  long  pointed  pole  used  to  loosen  the  stones  in 
a  wall  and  thus  to  make  a  breach.  It  is  also  called  a  "  sow  "  and  the  Old  Norse 
term  grafsvin,  "  digging  boar,"  was  evidently  an  attempt  to  translate  the 
Latin  term  scrofa  or  sus,  "  hog  "  or  "  sow."  For  a  description  of  the  cat,  see 
Oman,  Art  of  War,  132. 
t  On  the  subject  of  the  movable  tower  see  Oman,  Art  of  War,  134-135,  549. 


type  of  shooting  weapons,  such  as  spears  and  javelins 
both  light  and  heavy.  But  to  resist  the  trebuckets, 
the  cat,  and  the  engine  called  the  ram,  it  is  well  to 
strengthen  the  entire  stone  wall  on  the  inside  with 
large  oaken  timbers;  though  if  earth  and  clay  are  plen- 
tiful, these  materials  had  better  be  used.  Those  who 
have  to  defend  castles  are  also  in  the  habit  of  making 
curtains  of  large  oak  boughs,  three  or  even  five  deep, 
to  cover  the  entire  wall;  *  and  the  curtain  should  be 
thoroughly  plastered  with  good  sticky  clay.  To  defeat 
the  attacks  of  the  ram,  men  have  sometimes  filled  large 
bags  with  hay  or  straw  and  lowered  them  with  light 
iron  chains  in  front  of  the  ram  where  it  sought  to  pierce 
the  wall.  It  sometimes  happens  that  the  shots  fall  so 
rapidly  upon  a  fortress  that  the  defenders  are  unable 
to  remain  at  the  battlements;  it  is  then  advisable  to 
hang  out  brattices  made  of  light  planks  and  built  high 
enough  to  reach  two  ells  above  the  openings  in  the  para- 
pet and  three  ells  below  them.  They  should  be  wide 
enough  to  enable  the  men  to  fight  with  any  sort  of 
weapons  between  the  parapet  and  the  brattice  wall,  and 
they  should  be  hung  from  slender  beams  in  such  a  way 
that  they  may  be  readily  drawn  in  and  hung  out  again 
later,  as  one  may  wish.f 

The  "  hedgehog  "  {  will  be  found  an  effective  device 

*  These  curtains  were  evidently  placed  on  the  outer  side  of  the  wall, 
f  This  translation  of  hengirigskarft  is  based  on  Blom's  interpretation  (Aar- 
bogerfor  nordisk  Oldkyndighed,  1867,  105-106,  note).  The  brattices  were  pro- 
jecting galleries  built  along  the  top  of  the  wall  and  were  in  use  before  it  be- 
came customary  to  build  stone  parapets.  Cf.  Oman,  Art  of  War,  534. 
t  The  hedgehog  (ericius)  in  common  use  was  a  form  of  the  cheval  defrise  and 
was  laid  on  the  earth  to  impede  a  hostile  advance.  -I  know  of  no  other  men- 
tion of  the  device  (igulkottr)  described  above. 


in  defending  a  castle.  It  is  made  of  large,  heavy  beams 
armed  along  the  ridge  with  a  brush  of  pointed  oak  nails ; 
it  is  hung  outside  the  parapet  to  be  dropped  on  anyone 
who  comes  too  near  the  wall.  Turnpikes  made  of  large 
heavy  logs  armed  with  sharp  teeth  of  hard  oak  may  be 
raised  on  end  near  the  battlements  and  kept  ready  to 
be  dropped  upon  those  who  approach  the  castle.  An- 
other good  device  is  the  "  briar,"  *  which  is  made  of 
good  iron  and  has  curved  thorns  as  hard  as  steel  with 
a  barb  on  every  thorn;  and  the  chain,  from  which  it 
hangs,  as  high  up  as  a  man  can  reach  must  be  made  of 
spiked  links,  so  that  it  can  be  neither  held  nor  hewn; 
higher  up  any  kind  of  rope  that  seems  suitable  may  be 
used,  only,  it  must  be  firm  and  strong.  This  briar  is 
thrown  down  among  the  enemy  in  the  hope  of  catching 
one  or  more  of  them  and  then  it  is  pulled  up  again.  A 
"  running  wheel  "  f  is  also  a  good  weapon  for  those  who 
defend  castles:  it  is  made  of  two  millstones  with  an 
axle  of  tough  oak  joining  them.  Planks  sloping  down- 
ward are  laid  out  through  the  openings  in  the  wall;  the 
wheel  is  rolled  out  upon  these  and  then  down  upon  the 

A  "  shot  wagon  "  {is  also  a  good  device.  This  is  made 
like  any  other  wagon  with  two  or  four  wheels  as  one 
likes  and  is  intended  to  carry  a  load  of  stones,  hot  or 

*  Captain  Blom  is  disposed  to  look  on  the  brynklungr  as  an  imaginary  device 

(Aarboger  for  nordisk  Oldkyndighed,  1867,  106)  but  Falk  finds  that  some  such 

instrument  was  in  use  in  Italy  as  early  as  the  tenth  century  (Altnordische 

Waffenkunde,  199-200). 

t  Devices  somewhat  similar  to  the  "  running  wheel  "  seem  to  have  been  used 

in  medieval  warfare,  but  of  this  particular  form  no  other  mention  has  been 

found.  See  Falk,  Altnordische  Waffenkunde,  200. 

%  Ibid.  The  "  shot  wagon  "  is  not  mentioned  elsewhere. 


cold  as  one  may  prefer.  It  must  also  be  provided  with 
two  firm  and  strong  chains,  one  on  each  side,  which  can 
be  depended  on  to  check  the  wagon  even  where  it  has 
a  long  track  to  run  upon.  It  is  meant  to  run  on  planks 
set  with  a  downward  slope,  but  one  must  be  careful  to 
keep  the  wheels  from  skidding  off  the  planks.  When  the 
chains  check  the  speed,  the  wagon  shoots  its  load  out 
upon  the  men  below.  The  more  uneven  the  stones  are, 
some  large  and  some  small,  the  more  effective  the  load 
will  be.  Canny  men,  who  are  set  to  defend  a  wall  and 
wish  to  throw  rocks  down  upon  the  attacking  line  or 
upon  the  penthouse,  make  these  rocks  of  clay  with 
pebbles,  slingstones,  and  other  hard  stones  placed  in- 
side. The  clay  is  burned  hard  enough  on  the  outside  to 
endure  the  flight  while  the  load  is  being  thrown;  but  as 
soon  as  the  rocks  fall  they  break  into  fragments  and 
consequently  cannot  be  hurled  back  again.  To  break 
down  stone  walls,  however,  large,  hard  rocks  are  re- 
quired. Similarly,  when  one  hurls  missiles  from  a  stone 
fortress  against  an  opposing  wooden  tower  or  upon  the 
axletrees  which  support  siege  engines,  towers,  scaling 
ladders,  cats,  or  any  other  engine  on  wheels,  the  larger 
and  harder  the  rocks  that  are  used,  the  more  effective 
they  will  be. 

Boiling  water,  molten  glass,  and  molten  lead  are  also 
useful  in  defending  walls.*  But  if  a  cat  or  any  other 
covered  engine  which  cannot  be  damaged  by  hot  water 
is  being  pushed  toward  a  castle,  it  is  a  good  plan,  if  the 
engine  is  lower  than  the  walls,  to  provide  beams  care- 

*  See  the  Soro  edition,  424-425,  where  the  editor  cites  a  number  of  references 
to  the  use  of  fire  in  defensive  warfare;  these  are  nearly  all  drawn  from  the 


fully  shod  with  iron  underneath  and  in  addition  armed 
with  large,  sharp,  red-hot  plowshares.  These  are  to  be 
thrown  down  upon  the  wooden  engine  in  which  the 
plowshares  are  likely  to  stick  fast,  while  the  beams  may 
be  hoisted  up  again.  This  attack  should  be  followed  up 
with  pitch,  sulphur,  or  boiling  tar.* 

Mines  dug  in  the  neighborhood  of  a  castle  are  also 
an  excellent  protection;  the  deeper  and  narrower  they 
are,  the  better  it  is;  and  where  men  are  shoving  mounted 
engines  toward  the  walls,  it  were  well  if  there  were  many 
mines.  All  mines  should  have  a  number  of  small  open- 
ings, which  must  be  covered  so  as  not  to  be  visible  on  the 
surface.  They  should  be  filled  with  fuel  of  the  most  in- 
flammable sort,  peat  or  anything  else  that  burns  readily. 
When  a  castle  is  attacked  at  night  either  from  wooden 
towers  or  with  scaling  ladders  or  any  other  engine  on 
wheels,  the  defenders  should  steal  out  and  fire  the 
mines,  f 

Now  if  it  should  happen  that  the  enemy's  stones 
come  over  the  battlements  with  such  violence  that  the 
men  cannot  remain  in  the  open  to  defend  the  wall,  it  is 
a  good  plan  to  set  up  strong  posts  cut  from  thick  oak 
and  to  lay  large  and  tough  cross  beams  upon  these, 
then  to  roof  the  whole  over  with  firm  oak  timbers,  and 
finally  to  cover  the  roofing  with  a  layer  of  earth  not  less 
than  three  or  four  ells  in  depth,  upon  which  the  rocks 
may  be  allowed  to  drop.J  In  like  manner  the  attack  of 

*  Evidently  the  purpose  would  be  to  crush  the  engine  with  the  beam,  to  set  it 

on  fire  with  the  hot  plowshares,  and  to  put  the  assailants  to  flight  with  the 

pitch,  sulphur,  or  tar;  these  would  also  feed  the  flames. 

t  On  the  subject  of  mines  see  Oman,  Art  of  War,  549-550. 

J  The  posts  were  apparently  placed  on  top  of  the  wall,  the  purpose  being  to 

raise  the  wall  to  a  greater  height  as  well  as  to  furnish  shelter  for  the  defenders. 


a  wooden  tower  that  is  moving  toward  a  castle  may  be 
foiled  by  setting  up  strong,  firm  posts  rising  consider- 
ably higher  than  the  attacking  tower.  But  a  more  effec- 
tive contrivance  than  all  the  engines  that  I  have  now 
described  is  a  stooping  shield-giant  which  breathes  forth 
flame  and  fire.*  And  now  we  shall  close  our  account  of 
the  engines  that  are  useful  in  defending  castle  walls  with 
the  reminder  that  every  sort  of  weapon  with  which  one 
can  shoot,  hurl,  hew,  or  thrust,  and  every  kind  that 
can  be  used  in  attack  or  defense  may  be  brought  into 



Son.  Since  you  seem  to  think  that  sufficient  has  been 
said  about  weapons  both  for  attack  and  defense,  how 
they  should  be  made  or  built,  and  on  what  occasion  each 
kind  should  be  used  (and  after  your  comments  these 
things  are  very  clear  to  me),  I  now  wish  to  ask  whether 
there  may  not  be  other  subjects  which  you  think  ought 
to  be  discussed,  such  as  pertain  to  customs  that  one 
must  observe  in  the  presence  of  great  men  or  at  royal 

Father.  There  still  remain  a  number  of  things  which 
a  man  should  not  fail  to  hear  discussed  and  to  reflect 
upon,  if  he  is  to  attend  on  kings  or  other  magnates  and 

*  The  shield-giant  was  probably  a  mythical  device;  but  it  is  possible  as  has 
been  suggested  that  its  fiery  breath  may  refer  to  the  use  of  Greek  fire,  with 
which  the  Norwegians  became  acquainted  during  the  crusades,  or  even  to 
early  experiments  with  gunpowder.  Falk,  Altnordische  Waffenkunde,  200-201. 
It  is  not  known  when  gunpowder  was  invented,  but  the  earliest  known  for- 
mula for  making  it  is  found  in  the  writings  of  Roger  Bacon,  who  was  a  con- 
temporary of  the  author  of  the  King's  Mirror. 


wishes  to  be  ranked  among  them  as  a  worthy  man.  But 
there  are  three  things  (which  are,  however,  almost  the 
same  in  reality)  which  one  must  observe  with  care :  they 
are  wisdom,  good  breeding,  and  courtesy.  It  is  courtesy 
to  be  friendly,  humble,  ready  to  serve,  and  elegant  in 
speech;  to  know  how  to  behave  properly  while  convers- 
ing  or  making  merry  with  other  menfe  to  know  precisely, 
when  a  man  is  conversing  with  women,  whether  they 
be  young  or  older  in  years,  of  gentle  or  humble  estate, 
how  to  select  such  expressions  as  are  suited  to  their  rank 

and  are  as  proper  for  them  to  hear  as  for  him  to  use.  In 
like  manner  when  one  speaks  with  men,  whether  they 
be  young  or  old,  gentle  or  humble,  it  is  well  to  knowjhow 
to  ejnploy  jitting  words  and  how  to  determine  what  ex- 
pressions are  proper  for  each  one  to  take  note  of.  Even 
when  mere  pleasantry  is  intended,  it  is  well  to  choose 
fair  and  decent  words.  It  is  also  courtesy  to  know  how 
to  discriminate  in  language,  when  to  use  plural  and  when 
to  use  singular  forms  in  addressing  the  men  with  whom 
one  is  conversing;  to  know  how  to  select  one's  clothes 
both  as  to  color  and  other  considerations;  and  to  know 
when  to  stand  or  sit,  when  to  rise  or  kneel.  It  is  also 
courtesy  to  know  when  a  man  ought  to  let  his  hands 
drop  gently  and  to  keep  them  quiet,  or  when  he  ought 
to  move  them  about  in  service  for  himself  or  for  others; 
to  know  in  what  direction  to  turn  his  face  and  breast, 
and  how  to  turn  his  back  and  shoulders.  It  is  courtesy 
to  know  precisely  when  he  is  free  to  wear  his  cloak,  hat, 
or  coif,  if  he  has  one,  and  when  these  are  not  to  be  worn; 
also  to  know,  when  at  the  table,  whether  good  breeding 
demands  that  one  must  watch  the  great  men  partake  of 


food,  or  whether  one  may  eat  and  drink  freely  in  any 
that  seems  convenient  and  proper.\(t  is  also  cour- 

tesy to  refrain  from  sneers  and  contemptuous  jests,  to 
'  know  clearly  what  churlishness  is  and  to  avoid  it  care- 

It  is  good  breeding  to  be  agreeable  and  never  obsti- 
nate when  one  is  with  other  men,  and  to  be  modest  in 
demeanor;  to  walk  a  proper  gait  when  on  foot  and  to 
watch  one's  limbs  carefully  wherever  one  goes  to  make 
sure  that  each  will  move  correctly  and  yet  in  a  natural 
way. ;  It  is  good  breeding,  too,  when  one  strolls  about 
in  a  city  among  strangers,  to  keep  silence  and  use  few 
words,)to  shun  turmoil  and  disgraceful  tippling,  to  pun- 
ish theft  and  robbery  and  all  other  foolish  rioting.  It  is 
also  good  breeding  to  avoid  profanity,  cursing,  scolding, 
and  all  other  pernicious  talk.  Be  careful  also  never 
appear  as  the  advocate  of  stupid  and  dishonest  men  and 
especially  not  to  support  them  in  their  impudence^ 
rather  to  show  hatred  for  wickedness  in  every  form.  It  i 
good  breeding  to  shun  chess  and  dice,  brothels  and  per- 
jury, false  testimony,  and  other  lasciviousness  or  filthy 
behavior^.  It  shows  good  breeding  to  be  cleanly  in  food 
and  clothes;  to  take  good  care  of  the  ships,  horses, 
weapons,  and  buildings  that  one  may  possess;  to  be  cau- 
tious and  never  rash  and  to  be  undismayed  in  times  of 
stress;  never  to  be  ostentatious,  domineering,  or  envious; 
r  and  to  shun  arrogance  and  affectation  in  every  form.  But 
)  the  chief  point  in  all  conduct  is  to  love  God  and  holy 
]  church,  to  hear  mass  regularly,  to  be  diligent  in  divine 
</  service,  and  to  implore  mercy  for  oneself  and  all  other 


No  one  can  attain  to  all  these  virtues  which  we  have 
now  enumerated  as  belonging  to  courtesy  and  good 
breeding,  unless  he  is  also  endowed  with  wisdom.  These 
gifts  will  accompany  wisdom:  elegance  in  speech,  elo- 
quence, insight  into  proper  conduct,  and  ability  to  dis- 
criminate between  good  manners  and  what  passes  for 
such  in  the  sayings  of  foolish  men,  though  they  are  in 
fact  bad  manners.  It  is  also  wisdom,  when  one  is  present 
at  the  law  court,  or  some  other  place  where  men  congre- 
gate, and  hears  the  speeches  and  the  suits  of  men,  to  be 
able  to  discerndearly  what  suits  or  what  speeches  de- 
livered^ there  are  based  on  reason  and  which  ones  are 
merely  glib  palaver  and  senseless  verbosity.  It  is  also 
wisdom  to  have  a  clear  appreciation,  when  decrees  are 
rendered  in  the  disputes  of  men,  of  how  these  are  stated, 
so  that  not  a  word  will  be  added  or  taken  away,  if  one 
should  need  to  know  them  at  some  later  time.  It  is  also 
wisdom  to  keep  faithfully  in  mind  what  facts  were  dis- 
cussed and  what  agreements  were  reached.  It  is  wisdom 
to  know  the  law  thoroughly,  to  have  clear  perceptions 
of  what  is  actual  law  and  what  is  merely  called  law, 
being  nothing  but  quibble  and  subterfuge.  It  is  also 
wisdom,  if  one  has  a  request  to  make,  to  be  able  to  de- 
termine what  he  may  ask  for  that  will  prove  serviceable 
and  is  proper  for  the  other  to  grant;  also,  if  one  meets 
a  request,  to  know  precisely  what  he  may  grant  with 
propriety  and  in  what  matters  he  must  be  careful  not  to 
bind  himself  or  those  who  come  after  him,  such  things, 
namely,  as  may  prove  a  disgrace  to  him  rather  than  a 
distinction.  Finally,  it  is  wisdom  not  to  be  strait-handed 




about  things  which  one  may  just  as  well  dispose  of,  lest 
such  stint  or  stinginess  bring  shame  upon  him. 

There  is  also  great  wisdom  in  moderation  and  right- 
eousness. All  forms  of  learning,  insight,  and  good  fore- 
sight which  is  necessary  to  courtesy  and  good  breeding, 
to  stewardship,  government  and  the  enforcement  of 
law,  —  these,  too,  are  akin  to  wisdom.  And  you  will 
need  to  learn  all  this  thoroughly,  if  you  wish  to  be  known 
among  kings  and  chieftains  as  an  estimable  man,  for  all 
who  know  these  things  are  received  with  favor  among 
the  great.  Furthermore,  the  lives  of  men  who  have 
mastered  this  knowledge  may  bring  great  honor  to 
themselves  and  profit  to  many  others.  But  wisdom  has 
any  forms,  for  it  springs  from  roots  which  have  many 
branches.  And  from  these  roots  of  wisdom  rises  the 

mightiest  of 

agMll  Jiyjd^sjnto  large 

branches,  and  a  multitude  of  twigs  of 
"different  sizes,  some  small  and  some  Targe.  These  are 
later  distributed  among  men' in  sjuchji  way  that  some 
obtain  the  larger  and  some  the  smaller  ones,  and  these 
"ncEes  have  their  value  according  as  they  are  loved.  He 
who  is  sure  to  appreciate  this  wealth  and  share  it  freely 
receives  a  large  amount;  for  the  nature  of  this  possession 
is  such  that  it  is  most  attracted  to  him  who  loves  it  most 
and  uses  it  most  liberally.  ^And  if  men  knew  how  io^ 
value  and  appreciate  these  riches  properly,  gold  and 
silver  would  seem  to  them  like  rust,  clay,  or  ashes, 
when  compared  with  these  treasures.  But  he  who  wishes 
to  secure  this  wealth  must  begin  in  this  way :  he  must 
fear  Almighty  God  and  love  Him  above  all  things. 




Son.  It  was  clearly  well-advised  to  continue  this  in- 
quiry, for  now  I  have  gotten  both  useful  and  precise 
information;  and  this  speech  will  surely  help  every  man 
who  is  at  least  somewhat  intelligent  to  more  definite 
ideas  than  he  had  before.  Moreover,  those  who  have 
received  only  slenderw^md^frnrn  th^  boughs  of  wisdom 
are  more  numerous  than  those  whaliave_xeceived_  large 
branches^some  gettingjjut^the  tiniesrt  twigs,  and  some_ 
a  mere  leaf,  while  those  who  get  nothing  must  indeed 
be  few.  Therefore  I  wish  to  ask  you  to  instruct  me  fur- 
ther in  the  art  of  choosing  and  laying  hold  on  those 
branches  which  may  prove  useful  to  myself  and  others. 

Father.  The  virtues  that  I  have  just  enumerated  grow 
especially  on  the  boughs  of  wisdom,  but  they  ramify 
into  a  great  many  good  branches  and  twigs.  Now  these  <r 


are  the  branches  which  are  most  useful :  a  rational  out-  " 
look,  a  temperate  mind,  and  the  capacity  to  determine 
judiciously  what  one  owes  to  every  other  man. "If  youv 
are  angry  with  any  man  because  of  a  law  suit  or  some 
evil  deed,  take  careful  thought  before  seeking  revenge, 
as  to  how  important  the  matter  really  is  and  how  great 
a  retribution  it  is  worth  ./When  you  hear  things  in  the 
speech  of  other  men  which  offend  you  much,  be  sure  to 
investigate  with  reasonable  care  whether  the  tales  be 
true  or  false;  but  if  they  prove  to  be  true  and  it  is  proper 
for  you  to  seek  revenge,  take  it  with  reason  and  modera- 
tion and  never  when  heated  or  irritated!  YE ven  though 
you  hear  tidings  which  seem  damaging  to  yourself  or 




your  business,  such  as  loss  of  property  or  men,  always 
bear  it  with  a  calm  and  undaunted  temper.  Let  the  loss 
of  wealth  seem  least  to  you,  for  you  must  bear  in  mind 
jthat  it  is  sinful  to  worship  wealth  or  to  love  it  too  highly, 
even  though  it  returns a  man's  love  and  comes  abun- 
tkmtly  into  his  keeping.  And  to  love  wealth  much,  when 
it  seems  inclined  to  turn  away  from  a  man  and  does  not 
return  his  love,  is  surely  sinful  and  will  lead  to  grief. 
Remember,  too,  that  all  come  destitute  into  the  world; 
and  our  mode  of  departure  from  this  life  is  such  that 
wealth  cannot  follow  us  out  of  the  world.  Nevertheless, 
you  must  take  heed  that  nothing  is  lost  through  your 
iieglect  or  indifference.  And  never  grieve  so  deeply  over 
a  loss  that  you  cannot  be  hopeful  and  cheerful  as  before. 
If  you  suffer  loss  of  men,  bear  that  loss,  too,  with  a 
calm  spirit;  for  remember  that  every  man  in  departing 
this  life  fulfils  a  law  in  human  nature,  inasmuch  as  no 
one  is  created  to  live  forever  in  this  world.  Let  it  grieve 
you  more,  if  an  acquaintance  of  yours  who  has  not 
lived  as  he  ought  here  on  earth,  should  die  in  that  state 
and  leave  the  world  in  disgrace;  but  most  of  all  if  you 
fear  that  his  soul  is  in  peril;  for  such  things  are  rather 
to  be  lamented  than  that  in  dying  he  pays  a  debt  to 
nature*  But  if  he  lived  uprightly  while  on  earth  and 
made  proper  provision  for  his  soul  before  he  died,  then 
you  may  take  comfort  in  the  good  repute  that  lives  after 
him,  and  even  more  in  the  blissful  happiness  which  you 
believe  he  will  enjoy  with  God  in  the  other  world.  In 
the  same  way  you  must  keep  your  spirit  calm  and  in 
good  control  when  such  events  come  to  pass  as  may  seem 
profitable  to  you  and  stir  your  heart  to  joy  and  gladness, 


whether  it  be  the  death  of  men  whom  you  have  hated, 
or  other  happenings  in  which  you  might  seem  to  find 
pleasure.  But  if  you  should  happen  to  hear  of  the  death 
of  a  man  whom  you  counted  an  enemy  and  to  whom 
you  had  planned  to  do  evil,  if  opportunity  should  be 
found,  rejoice  much  more  in  that  God  has  saved  you 
from  a  threefold  sin  than  in  the  death  of  him  who  has 
departed.  For  you  should  be  glad  that  God  has  pre- 
vented your  hands  from  committing  the  sinful  deed 
that  was  in  your  purpose,  and  has  relieved  your  mind 
of  the  long-continued  wrath  and  bitterness  which  you 
cherished  against  your  enemy  while  he  lived. 

Likewise,  if  high  honors  and  dignities  should  come 
to  you  from  a  king  or  from  other  magnates,  it  is  im- 
portant that  you  should  know  how  to  receive  them  with 
modesty,  lest  what  befalls  so  many  an  indiscreet  man 
should  also  happen  to  you.  For  it  is  often  the  case  that 
when  one  who  is  lacking  in  good  sense  receives  any 
preferment  from  great  men,  he  will  rate  himself  so  high 
in  his  pride  and  avarice  that  he  counts  no  other  man 
his  equal.  But  such  pretension  leads  to  the  downfall  of 
everyone  who  behaves  in  this  way;  inasmuch  as  it  is 
God's  purpose  to  strike  down  immoderate  pride  with 
sacred  humility;  and  everyone  who  is  too  proud  and 
greedy  in  his  behavior  will  surely  find  God  a  constant 
opponent LNow  if  you  should  be  so  fortunate  as  to  re- 
ceive preferments  from  a  king  or  other  princes,  remem- 
ber it  is  God's  method  and  purpose,  by  prompting  them 
(for  He  holds  the  minds  and  hearts  of  chiefs  in  His  hand), 
to  elevate  such  men  as  He  wishes  to  honor  and  dignity. 
On  the  other  hand,  it  is  also  the  duty  of  every  man  to 


assist  all  those  who  have  less  strength  than  he.  Keep  in 
mind,  then,  if  God  should  raise  you  up  to  any  place  of 
honor,  that  it  must  be  to  the  profit  of  all  who  are  less 
capable  than  yourself,  except  such  as  hate  morality  and 
right  counsel;  to  them  it  should  be  a  hindrance  for  a  just 
man  to  be  given  power  and  authority.  If  God  gives  you 
wisdom  and  clear  insight  and  you  have  also  the  good 
fortune  to  be  awarded  honors  by  great  men,  there  are 
certain  vices  which  you  need  especially  to  guard  against : 
arrogant  self-esteem,^avarice  that  yearns  for  bribes,  and 
forgetful  neglect  of  the  needs  of  men  who  are  less  capable 
than  yourself.  Keep  constantly  before  your  eyes  as  a 
warning  the  misfortunes  of  those  who  have  fallen  into 
disgrace  because  of  immoderate  pride.  Also  keep  in 
mind,  as  a  comforting  hope,  the  careers  of  men  who  have 
received  constant  honors  because  of  their  steadfast  jus- 
tice and  humility. 





Son.  I  see  clearly  that  God  creates  men  unequal  in 
power  and  wisdom  because  He  wishes  to  see  how  each 
one  is  going  to  use  what  He  has  endowed  him  with, 
whether  in  high  living  for  the  glorification  of  self,  or  in 
bountiful  kindness  toward  those  who  have  need  of  him 
and  have  not  received  such  gifts  from  God.  And  now  I 
want  to  ask  you  to  cite  a  few  examples  both  of  men 
whose  good  sense  and  humility  have  brought  them 
honor  and  of  such  as  have  suffered  destruction  through 
vain  pride. 


Father.  There  have  been  so  many  cases  of  that  sort, 
that  we  should  have  to  extend  our  talk  to  a  great  length, 
if  we  were  to  mention  all  those  of  either  class  which  we 
know  could  serve  as  examples  to  show  how  these  things 
have  worked  out.  I  shall  therefore  name  a  few  only, 
though  some  of  each  kind,  for  in  that  way  a  long  dis- 
course may  be  the  sooner  finished.  The  following  in- 
stances are  ancient  and  easily  remembered.  When 
Joseph  was  sold  into  Egypt,*  a  mighty  lord  bought  him; 
but  after  he  had  purchased  him  he  found  that  Joseph 
was  a  discreet  man,  and  he  preferred  and  honored  him 
above  all  his  other  servants,  not  only  above  those  whom 
he  kept  in  bondage,  but  even  above  his  freeborn  kins- 
men; and  he  gave  into  his  hands  the  oversight  of  his 
wealth  and  property,  house  and  home,  and  all  his  wel- 
fare. But  because  Joseph  was  a  handsome  man,  kind 
and  courteous  in  behavior,  and  sensible  in  speech,  he 
won  the  love  and  friendship  of  all  who  knew  him  and 
were  subject  to  the  same  lord  who  was  Joseph's  master. 

The  wife  of  this  mighty  man  loved  Joseph  more  than 
was  proper,  and  impelled  by  evil  desire,  she  sought  to 
commit  a  vile  sin  against  her  husband,  because  of  the 
love  that  she  bore  for  Joseph ;  and  she  was  not  ashamed 
in  her  bold  passion  to  intimate  to  him  what  she  had  in 
mind.  But  when  he  learned  her  purpose,  he  replied  in 
this  wise:  "  We  cannot  deal  with  each  other  as  equals, 
for  you  are  my  lady  and  I  am  your  thrall;  and  it  would 
be  a  very  great  disgrace  for  you  to  submit  yourself  to 
me  and  too  bold  and  rash  in  me  to  bring  such  dishonor 

*  Genesis,  cc.  xxxix-xli.  The  author  treats  the  Biblical  narratives  with  great 



upon  you /But  even  worse  is  the  unfaithfulness  to ward_ 
my  lord  which  I  should  be  guilty  of,  if  I  were  to  reward 
his  kindness  in  this  way  like  a  treacherous  thrall.  For 
he  has  trusted  me,  his  servant,  so  far  as  to  give  all  his 
wealth  and  riches  into  my  hands  and  keeping,  and 
I  must  not  deceive  my  lawful  master^ with  shameful 
treachery,  unless  I  should  wish  to  prove  the  saying  in 
daily  use  that  it  is  ill  to  have  a  thrall  as  a  chosen  friend." 
But  when  the  woman  saw.  that  Joseph  was  a  good  man 
and  wished  to  be  faithful,  she  thought  it  a  shame  that 
he  should  know  her  faithlessness,  and,  prompted  by 
enmity  and  not  by  justice,  she  became  anxious  to  work 
his  ruin,  if  possible.  So  she  told  her  husband  that  Joseph 
had  made  an  unseemly  request  and  added  that  it  showed 
great  audacity,  in  a  thrall  to  make  such  bold  remarks 
to  his  lady.  She  was  believed  as  a  good  wife,  and  Joseph 
was  cast  into  prison  strongly  fettered  and  heavily 
chained,  the  purpose  being  to  let  him  end  his  days  by 
rotting  alive  because  of  his  pride  and  faithlessness.  But 
when  God,  Who  always  loves  justice  and  humility,  saw 
the  faithfulness  of  Joseph  whom  He  knew  to  be  inno- 
cent, He  shaped  the  outcome  so  that  Joseph  profited 
by  the  condemnation  that  he  had  suffered  though  inno- 
cent. For  God  saved  him  from  prison  under  such  circum- 
stances that  he  was  elevated  to  far  greater  prominence 
than  before;  and  God  prompted  King  Pharaoh  to  make 
Joseph  master  and  judge  of  all  Egypt  next  to  the  king 
himself;  and  this  office  he  held  into  his  old  age  and  as 
long  as  he  lived. 

Long  after  this  and  in  another  place,  a  somewhat 
similar  experience  came  to  a  famous  king,  who  ruled 



over  many  realms.  He  was  called  by  three  names,  be- 
cause the  languages  differed  in  the  lands  that  he  ruled 
over:  in  one  place  he  was  called  Artaxerxes;  in  another 
place,  Cyrus;  and  some  tell  us  that  to  him  God  spoke 
these  kind  words  by  the  mouth  of  his  prophet  :£"  To 
mine  anointed,  to  Cyrus,  whose  right  hand  I  have 
holden  to  subdue  nations  before  him;  and  I  will  loose 
the  loins  of  kings/'  etc.*]  Others,  however,  maintain 
that  it  was  another  Cyrus  who  is  referred  to  in  this  1 
scripture;  but  we  shall  not  discuss  this  any  longer,  since  | 
we  cannot  be  sure  whether  it  was  written  about  this  \ 

Cyrus  or  another.  But  in  a  third  place  the  king  was 
called  Ahasuerus.  And  whereas  he  himself  was  mighty 
and  excellent,  he  also  had  a  wealthy  wife  named  Vashti, 
who  was  his  queen.  Once  when  the  king  was  absent  in 
distant  warfare  to  extend  his  dominion,  he  had  ap- 
pointed Queen  Vashti  to  govern  that  part  of  his  king- 
dom where  his  court  resided.  On  his  return  home  with 
a  wealth  of  spoils,  he  made  a  great  feast  to  gladden  all 
those  among  his  lords  who  had  accompanied  him  on 
the  campaign;  and  Queen  Vashti  made  another  feast 
for  her  own  lords,  who  had  remained  at  home  to  assist 
her  in  the  government.  Then  the  king  commanded 
Vashti  to  appear  before  him  in  his  hall  in  all  her  regalia 
and  arrayed  in  all  the  beauty  of  queenly  raiment  and 
thus  to  show  her  joy  in  his  home-coming  and  do  honor 
to  his  feast.  But  Queen  Vashti  refused  to  obey  the  king's 
command,  saying  that  she  could  not  leave  her  own  feast, 
having  invited  many  good  chiefs.  When  the  king  saw 

*  Isaiah,  xlv,  1.  In  this  case  the  author  quotes  directly  from  the  Vulgate: 
"  Christo  meo  Sciro,  cujus  apprehendi  dexteram,  ut  subjiciam  ante  faciem 
ejus  gentes  et  dorsa  regum  vertam." 



her  arrogance  and  pride,  he  concluded  that  she  esteemed 
him  no  more  highly  for  the  perilous  toil  that  he  had 
endured  while  extending  his  frontiers  than  she  esteemed 
herself  for  having  remained  quietly  at  home  with  the 
regency,  which  he  had  left  in  her  hands.  Because  of  this 
presumption  the  king  became  so  wrathful,  that  he  de- 
creed that  Vashti  had  forfeited  the  office  of  queen  and 
all  the  authority  which  she  possessed.  And  he  found  a 
captive  maiden  of  the  people  of  Israel,  whose  name  was 
Esther,  who  was  then  in  bondage  in  his  kingdom,  though 
she  had  sprung  from  a  prominent  family  in  her  native 
land,  and  this  maiden  the  king  placed  in  Vashti's  seat, 
endowing  her  with  all  the  power  that  Vashti  had  once 
possessed;  and  he  made  Esther  queen  of  all  his  kingdom 
A  few  days  later  another  event  occurred  at  this  same 
court.  There  was  a  famous  and  powerful  chief  named 
Haman  and  he  was  with  King  Ahasuerus.  So  highly  did 
the  king  esteem  Haman  that  all  the  people  were  ordered 
to  obey  him  and  bow  down  before  him  as  before  the 
king  himself.  Now  there  was  also  a  man  named  Mor- 
decai,  a  captive  of  the  people  of  Israel,  who  was  Queen 
Esther's  uncle;  but  inasmuch  as  he  was  both  poor  and 
in  bondage,  he  dared  not  make  known  his  kinship  to 
the  queen;  nor  dared  the  queen  show  greater  deference 
to  him  than  to  any  other  in  the  royal  service.  Then  it 
happened  one  day,  when  Haman  the  prince  came  to  see 
the  king,  that  on  his  return  home  his  way  passed  near 
where  Mordecai  sat.  But  Mordecai  was  brooding  over 
the  bondage  in  which  he  had  been  placed  along  with 
the  people  who  had  been  taken  captive  out  of  Israel; 
and  being  in  deep  thought  he  failed  to  notice  that  Ha- 


man  was  passing  so  near,  and  consequently  did  not 
rise  to  bow  before  him.  But  when  Haman  saw  that  an 
alien  thrall  neglected  to  bow  the  knee  before  him,  he 
became  so  wrathful  that  as  soon  as  he  came  home  he 
ordered  a  high  gallows  to  be  raised  near  his  house,  on 
which  he  intended  to  hang  Mordecai.  He  also  caused 
letters  to  be  sent  throughout  the  realm  permitting  every 
man  to  deal  with  the  people  of  Israel  as  he  liked:  who- 
ever wished  to  do  so  might  plunder  them,  or  force  them 
into  bondage  and  servitude,  or  even  slay  them. 

When  the  news  of  this  came  to  Mordecai,  necessity 
compelled  him  to  deal  more  boldly  with  the  queen  than 
before:  he  came  to  wait  upon  her,  and,  throwing  him- 
self at  her  feet,  he  told  these  tidings  with  much  sorrow. 
When  the  queen  heard  that  the  entire  nation  from  which 
she  had  sprung  was  condemned,  she  called  upon  God 
with  all  her  soul;  next  she  sought  the  king's  presence, 
robed  in  the  stately  apparel  of  a  queen,  and  fell  humbly 
at  his  feet.  But  when  the  queen  had  entered  and  the 
king  saw  that  she  came  in  such  deep  humility  and 
with  troubled  countenance,  he  perceived  that  she  had 
a  matter  of  such  great  importance  to  bring  before  him 
that  she  would  have  to  find  the  courage  in  his  favor  to 
state  what  concerned  her.  Taking  her  hand  he  raised 
her  up,  spoke  gently  to  her,  seated  her  beside  him,  and 
bade  her  state  clearly  all  the  details  of  her  errand.  Queen 
Esther  did  as  the  king  commanded  and  related  the  whole 
event  just  as  it  had  occurred;  and  then  she  begged  him 
/to  take  action  according  to  royal  mercy  rather  thann 
according  to  Haman's  excessive  anger.  When  the  king/ 
saw  Haman's  boundless  ambition  and  arrogant  wrath,  I 


he  caused  Haman  himself  to  be  hanged  upon  the  gal- 
lows which  he  had  intended  for  Mordecaijand  sent 
orders  throughout  the  entire  realm  that  the  people  of 
Israel  be  allowed  to  live  in  complete  freedom  according 
to  the  ordinances  of  their  sacred  laws;  and  he  gave  to 
Mordecai  all  the  authority  that  Haman  had  once  pos- 

i^-"^  From  this  you  will  observe  that  God  demands  mod- 
eration and  fairness,  humility,  justice,  and  fidelity  as  a 
V  duty  from  those  whom  he  raises  to  honor.  For  Joseph, 
as  we  said  before,  was  rewarded  with  splendid  honors 
and  great  advancement  because  of  his  faithfulness  and 
humility,  although  he  had  been  sold  for  money  like  a 
thrall  into  a  strange  land;  but  God  soon  raised  him  by 
the  king's  command  to  be  a  lord  and  the  highest  judge 
in  all  Egypt  next  to  the  king  himself.  One  may  also  ob- 
serve from  this  how  much  it  is  contrary  to  God's  will 
to  exalt  oneself  through  vain  conceit;  for  Queen  Vashti 
lost  her  queenship  and  all  her  power  in  a  single  day  be- 
cause of  her  pride,  while  a  captive  maiden  of  a  strange 
people  was  appointed  in  her  stead;  and  Haman  lost  all 
his  authority  in  a  single  day  because  of  his  excessive 

vanity,  while  his  dignities  were  given  to  a  stranger,  a 


captive  thrall.  Now  if  you  should  win  honors  from  great 
lords,  beware  of  an  outcome  like  those  in  the  stories 
which  you  have  just  heard,  and  there  are  many  such; 
but  make  good  use  of  the  story  that  I  told  you  earlier 
about  Joseph. 

There  are  still  other  examples  which  go  far  back  into 
the  days  of  Emperor  Constantine:  for  God  had  ap- 

*  See  Esther,  cc.  i-viii. 


pointed  him  ruler  of  all  the  world,  and  he  turned  to 
righteousness  and  Christianity  as  soon  as  he  came  to 
understand  the  holy  faith.  He  gave  his  mother,  Queen 
Helena,  a  kingdom  east  of  the  sea  in  the  land  of  the 
Jews.  But  because  her  realm  and  dominion  were  there, 
she  came  to  be  persuaded  that  no  faith  concerning  God 
could  be  correct  but  that  held  by  the  Jews ;  and  as  letters 
passed  between  them,  the  queen  and  her  son  the  em- 
peror, they  began  to  realize  that  they  differed  somewhat 
in  the  beliefs  which  each  of  them  held  concerning  God. 
Then  the  emperor  commanded  the  queen  to  come  over 
the  sea  from  the  east  with  her  wise  and  learned  men  and 
many  other  lords  to  a  meeting  in  Rome,  where  the  veri- 
ties of  the  holy  faith  should  be  examined.  But  when  the 
queen  arrived  with  her  company,  the  emperor  had  called 
together  many  bishops  including  Pope  Sylvester  and 
many  wise  men,  both  Christians  and  heathen.  When  the 
conference  had  begun  and  a  court  had  been  appointed 
to  decide  between  the  emperor  and  the  queen,  it  became 
evident  to  both  that  there  was  likely  to  be  a  violent  dis- 
pute between  the  Christian  bishops  and  the  learned 
Jews  and  other  wise  men  who  had  come  with  the  queen 
from  the  east,  in  view  of  the  fact  that  each  side  would 
produce  weighty  arguments  from  its  books  against  the 
other  to  prove  and  confirm  its  own  learning  and  holy 
faith.  They  saw  clearly,  therefore,  that  it  would  be 
necessary  for  the  assembly  to  appoint  upright  judges, 
who  could  weigh  in  a  tolerant  and  rational  spirit  all  the 
arguments  that  might  be  offered  on  either  side. 

But  whereas  the  emperor  with  the  pope  and  the  Chris- 
tian bishops  was  the  defender  of  holy  Christianity  and 


the  queen  the  protecting  shield  of  the  Jewish  faith,  it 
was  clear  to  both  that  it  would  be  improper  for  them 
to  subject  themselves  to  temptation  by  acting  as  judges 
in  this  dispute.  So  they  ordered  a  careful  search  to  be 
made  among  the  wise  men  to  find  whether  there  might 
be  some  in  all  their  number  who  were  so  reliable  in  wis- 
dom, judgment,  and  rightmindedness,  that  all  those 
present  could  trust  them  to  judge  rightly  in  their  con- 
test. But  when  the  entire  multitude  had  been  examined, 
only  two  men  were  found  whom  the  people  dared  choose 
to  be  judges  in  these  important  matters;  and  both  of 
these  men  were  heathen  and  bound  neither  to  the  law 
of  the  Christians  nor  to  the  Jewish  faith.  One  of  them 
was  named  Craton:  he  was  a  great  philosopher  and 
thoroughly  versed  in  all  learning;  he  was  a  friend  of 
mighty  men  and  enjoyed  their  favor;  but  never  had 
he  cared  for  more  of  this  world's  riches  than  what  he 
needed  for  clothes  and  food.  And  when  great  men  some- 
times gave  him  more  than  he  required,  he  would  give 
away  what  he  did  not  consume  to  such  as  were  needy. 
It  was  also  in  his  nature  to  speak  little  but  truthfully, 
and  no  man  knew  that  falsehood  had  ever  been  found 
on  his  lips;  wherefore  all  felt  that  the  merits  of  wisdom 
and  good  character  which  he  possessed  would  surely 
make  him  worthy  to  judge  in  these  important  matters. 
The  other  who  was  chosen  judge  was  named  Zenophi- 
lus;  he  was  a  famous  and  powerful  prince,  and  where  he 
directed  the  government  it  was  not  known  that  he  had 
ever  swerved  from  justice.  He  was  a  great  master  of 
eloquence  and  learned  in  all  science,  friendly  in  speech 
and  affable,  though  a  man  of  authority.  Nor  could  any- 


one  recall  that  falsehood  had  ever  been  found  on  his 
lips.  These  having  been  chosen  to  act  as  judges  in  be- 
half of  all  present,  the  Christians  and  the  Jews  held  a 
court;  and  these  two  decided  all  the  disputes,  as  they 
were  chosen  to  do,  and  it  was  found  as  before  that  in 
no  wise  did  they  deviate  from  justice.* 

I  have  cited  these  instances  that  you  might  appre- 
ciate the  [humility  and  rightmindedness  of  both  the 
emperor  and  the  queen;  for  though  they  were  lords  of 
the  entire  world,  they  regarded  it  as  proper  to  sit  in 
obedience  to  chosen  judges  who  were  much  inferior  to 
themselves  in  both  power  and  wealth  and  every  other 
respectjLikewise  you  are  to  appreciate  what  great  honor  7 
these  men  gained  through  their  wisdom  and  upright-  ^ 
ness;  for  though  they  were  both  heathen,  they  were  ) 
superior  to  all  others  as  to  insight  into  the  holy  faith  / 
and  the  world's  welfare.lA.nd  now  you  will  appreciate 
what  I  told  you  earlier  in  our  conversation,  namely, 
that  much  depends  on  the  example  that  a  man  leaves 
after  him.  Joseph  lived  before  the  birth  of  our  Lord 
Jesus  Christ;  he  was  sold  for  money  into  Egypt  as  an 
alien  thrall;  but  his  faithfulness  and  humility  pleased 
God  so  highly  that  he  was  made  ruler  next  to  the  king 
of  all  those  who  were  native  to  the  land  and  had  wealth 
and  kinsmen  there,  whether  they  were  rich  or  poor.  It 
is  many  hundred  winters  since  Joseph  died,  but  his 
glory  still  lives  and  is  daily  recalled  among  all  thought- 
ful people  throughout  the  world.  Queen  Vashti  died 

*  The  author's  source  for  his  account  of  the  council  where  Craton  and  Zenophi- 
lus  served  as  judges  is  the  legend  of  Pope  Silvester,  probably  the  Old  Norse 
version  of  the  legend,  Silvesters  Saga,  published  by  linger  in  Heilagra  Manna 
Sogur,  II,  245-286. 



long  before  the  birth  of  Christ,  as  did  Haman  the  prince; 
but  the  disgrace  that  came  upon  them  because  of  their 
pride  and  folly  still  lives.  Queen  Esther  bears  even  to 
this  day  the  living  honor  which  she  gained  through  her 
humility;  though  she  was  brought  to  India  *  as  a  cap- 
tive bondmaiden,  she  was  later  made  queen  over  many 
large  kingdoms  and  seated  upon  the  throne  from  which 
Queen  Vashti  was  banished. 

Although  the  events  that  we  last  related  in  speaking 
of  Emperor  Constantine  and  his  mother  Queen  Helena 
happened  after  the  birth  of  Christ,  it  was  still  so  long 
ago  that  no  man  can  recall  them  because  of  their  an- 
tiquity; yet  they  are  bright  with  honor  even  to  this  day. 
Craton  and  Zenophilus,  though  they  are  dead,  are  cele- 
brated for  their  wisdom  and  righteousness.  Though  both 
were  heathen  men,  they  were  chosen  to  be  judges  over 
nearly  all  the  people  who  were  in  the  world,  and  were 
even  trusted  in  behalf  of  all  men,  both  Christians  and 
Jews,  to  pass  judgment  on  those  laws  which  neither  of 
them  kept,  but  upon  which  the  welfare  of  the  world 
nevertheless  depended.  From  such  occurrences  you  will 
realize  that  God  holds  in  His  hand  the  tiller  with  which 
He  turns  and  moves  the  hearts  of  great  lords  whenever 
He  wishes,  and  controls  all  their  thoughts  according  to 
His  will.  For  King  Pharaoh  raised  up  Joseph  to  a  do- 
minion above  that  of  all  the  other  princes  who  were  in 
the  kingdom  before  him.  Ahasuerus  deprived  Vashti  of 
her  queenship,  though  she  was  both  wealthy  and  high- 
born, and  appointed  Esther  queen  in  her  stead.  He  also 

*  Not  India  but  Persia  in  the  Biblical  story;  but  the  Northmen  in  the  middle 
ages  used  the  term  India  very  much  as  we  use  the  term  Orient  today. 


hanged  Haman,  the  renowned  prince,  and  gave  all  his 
power  to  Mordecai,  who  was  once  a  bondman  brought 
captive  from  a  strange  land.  Emperor  Constantine 
placed  Craton  and  Zenophilus,  two  heathen  men,  in  the 
judgment  seat  and  trusted  them  to  pass  judgment  on 
the  verities  and  the  interpretation  of  the  holy  faith. 
Now  you  shall  know  of  a  truth  that  all  these  events 
have  come  to  pass  through  God's  providence  and  secret 
commands;  and  all  these  things  are  noted  down  for  the 
memory  of  men  in  the  future,  so  that  all  may  learn  and 
derive  profit  from  the  good  examples,  but  shun  the  evil 
ones.  And  if  it  should  be  your  fortune  to  become  a  kings- 
man,  remember  these  examples  that  I  have  now  shown 
you  (and  there  are  a  great  many  others  like  them  which 
we  have  not  mentioned  in  this  speech);  and  be  sure  to 
follow  all  those  which  you  see  are  likely  to  profit  you. 



Son.  God  reward  you,  sire,  for  taking  so  much  time 
to  hear  all  my  questions  and  for  giving  such  very  patient 
and  useful  answers:  for  these  talks  will  surely  lead  me 
to  think  and  observe  more  accurately  than  I  did  before. 
It  may  also  be  that  others  will  study Jbbfise  fcampH  His-  \ 
courses  in  the  future  and  derive  knowledge,  good  in-  1 
sight,  and  profitable  manners  from  them.  There  are, 
however,  several  other  things  which  I  have  in  mind  to 
investigate  and  wish  very  much  to  ask  about.  And  there- 
fore I  beg  you  not  yet  to  grow  weary  of  teaching  me; 
for  your  permission  gives  me  courage  to  confide  so  fully 


in  you  that  I  am  not  likely  to  overlook  anything  that 
my  mind  is  eager  to  know.  Indeed,  it  seems  to  me  that 
this  subject  opens  up  such  a  wide  field,  that  there  must 
be  many  things  left  which  one  needs  to  know  and  dis- 
cern fully,  if  one  wishes  to  be  rated  a  worthy  man  by 
kings  or  other  great  lords;  and  I  am  eager  to  hear  you 
talk  further  about  these  matters. 

But  for  this  once  I  wish  to  inquire  about  men  of 
greater  importance  than  those  who  have  to  serve  the 
mighty.  I  see  clearly  that  those  who  serve  are  in  duty 
bound  to  strive  after  the  best  manners,  knowledge,  wis- 
dom, and  righteousness;  but  it  would  seem  that  those, 
who  are  chiefs  and  rulers  and  whom  all  others  must 
serve,  owe  an  even  greater  duty  to  seek  both  knowledge 
and  insight;  above  all  it  must  be  their  duty  to  love 
every  form  of  righteousness,  since  they  have  authority 
to  punish  all  others  who  are  not  righteous.  Therefore  I 
wish  to  ask  with  your  permission  what  customs  the  king 
himself  should  observe  which  would  accord  with  his 
regal  dignity.  Tell  me  clearly  so  that  I  can  understand 
what  business  or  conduct  is  demanded  of  him  early  in 
the  morning  and  what  affairs  he  is  later  occupied  with 
the  day;  for  [he  is  so  highly  honored  and 

exalted  upon  earth  that  all  must  bend  and  bow  before 
him  as  before  God  A  So  great  is  his  power  that  he  may 
dispose  as  he  likes  of  the  lives  of  all  who  live  in  his  king- 
dom: he  lets  him  live  whom  he  wills  and  causes  him  to 
be  slain  whom  he  wills.  But  I  have  observed  this,  that 
if  a  man  becomes  another's  banesman,  all  upright  men 
from  that  time  on  have  an  aversion  for  him  as  for  a 
heathen;  since  to  slay  a  man  is  counted  a  great  sin  for 



which  the  one  who  commits  it  must  suffer  great  penance 
and  much  trouble  before  Christian  people  will  again  ad- 
mit him  to  fellowship.  And  again,  you  told  me  in  an 
earlier  speech  to  shun  manslaughter;  but  you  added 

that  all  manslaughter  committed  by  royal  command  or 
in  battle  I  need  shun  no  more  than  any  other  deed  which 
is  counted  good.  Now  if  the  king  has  received  such  great 
authority  from  God  that  all  slaughter  done  by  his  com- 
mand is  without  guilt,  I  should  imagine  that  he  must 
need  to  be  very  wise,  cautious,  and  upright  in  all  his 
doings;  and  therefore  I  wish  to  have  you  explain  fully 
the  things  that  I  have  now  asked  about,  unless  you  feel 
that  my  questions  are  stupid,  or  that  I  am  presuming 
too  much  in  showing  curiosity  about  the  doings  of  such 
great  men. 

Father.    Your  questions  are  not  stupid,  for  we  may 
just  as  well  talk  about  how  the  king  has  to  order  his 
government  or  his  conduct  as  about  other  men.  It  surely 
is  his  bounden  duty  to  seek  knowledge  and  understand- 
ing, and  he  ought  indeed  to  be  well  informed  as  to  what 
has  occurred  in  the  past,  for  in  that  way  he  will  gain 
insight  for  all  the  business  that  pertains  to  his  kingship. 
You  have  stated  that  he  is  highly  honored  and  exalted 
on  earth  and  that  all  bow  before  him  as  before  God; 
and  the  reason  for  this  is  that/Ee  king  represents  divinex/  /*''/  "*'/  * 
lordship:  for  he  bears  God's  own  name  and  sits  upon   c 
the  highest   judgment   seat  upon  eartSJ  wherefore  it    \ 
should  be  regarded  as  giving  honor  to  God  Himself, 
when  one  honors  the  king,  because  of  the  name  which 
he  has  from  God.  The  son  of  God  himself,  when  he  was 

—      __  _  

on  earth,  taught  by  his  own  example  that  all  should 


honor  the  king  and  show  him  due  obedience;  for  he 
commanded  his  apostle  Peter  to  draw  fishes  up  from 
the  depth  of  the  sea  and  to  open  the  mouth  of  the  fish 
that  he  caught  first,  and  said  that  he  would  find  a  penny 
there,  which  he  ordered  him  to  pay  to  Caesar  as  tribute 
money  for  them  both.  From  this  you  are  to  conclude 
thatfit  jsthe  duty  of  every  one  upon  earth  to  respect  and 
'  honor  the  royal  title  which  an  earthly  man  holds  from 
Godftfor  the  very  son  of  God  thought  it  proper  to  honor 
the  royal  dignity  so  highly  that  he,  to  the  glory  of  king- 
ship, made  himself  subject  to  tribute  along  with  that 
one  of  his  disciples  whom  he  made  chief  of  all  his  apostles 
and  gave  all  priestly  honors. 



Son.  There  remains  one  thing,  which,  as  usual,  I 
shall  need  to  have  explained  further,  as  it  is  not  very 
clear  to  me.  You  stated,  and  it  seems  reasonable,  that 
the  king  holds  a  title  of  high  honor  and  dignity  from 
God  Himself;  but  I  do  not  see  clearly  why  God  made 
Himself  subject  to  the  tribute  of  an  earthly  king;  since 
He  must,  it  seems  to  me,  be  above  all  kings,  seeing  that 
He  rules  the  earthly  as  well  as  the  heavenly  kingdom. 

Father.  That  God  Himself  has  honored  earthly  kings 
you  will  observe  from  the  fact  that,  when  He  came  down 
tp^  earth  from  the  loftiest  pinnacles  of  heaven,  He  re- 
garded Himself  as  having  come  among  men  as  a  guest 
and  did  not  wish  to  claim  a  share  in  the  earthly  king- 
ship, though  he  might  have  done  so.  But  He  fulfilled  the 



words  that(D  avid/had  spoken:  "  TheJLpjx^ruleth  in  the 
Heavens,  but  verily  he  hath  given  an  earthly  fcjngHom 
to  the  sons  of  men."  *  Now  God,  while  He  was  on  earth, 
wished  to  honor  earthly  kings  and  kingdoms  rather 
than  disparage  them  in  any  way;£for  He  would  not 
deprive  the  earthly  kingship  of  what  He  had  formerly 
given  into  the  control  of  earthly  lords;  but  God  showed 
a  perfect  obedience  to  Caesar.  You  should  also  observe 
that,  just  as  God  commanded  His  apostle  Peter  to  ex- 
amine the  first  fish  that  he  drew  and  take  a  penny  from 
its  mouth  (and  God  did  not  want  him  to  examine  the 
second  fish  or  the  third,  but  the  first  only),  similarly 
every  man  should  in  all  things  first  honor  the  king  and 
the  royal  dignity.  For  God  Himself  calls  the  king  His 
anointed,  and  every  king  who  possesses  the  full  honors 
of  royalty  is  rightly  called  the  Lord's  anointed. ")tn  like 
manner  one  of  God's  apostles  said  in  a  sermon  while 
instructing  the  people  in  the  true  faith:  "  Fear  God  and 
honor  your  king,"  |  —  which  is  almost  as  if  he  had 
literally  said  that£he  who  does  not  show  perfect  honor 
to  the  king  does  not  fear  God,  j 

Every  king,  as  you  have  said,  ought,  indeed,  to  be 
wise,  well-informed,  and  above  everything  upright,  that 
he  may  be  able  to  realize  fully  that  he  is  after  all  merely 
a  servant  of  God,  though  he  is  honored  and  exalted  so 
highly  in  the  supreme  service  of  God,  that  all  bow  down 

*  The  reference  is  evidently  to  Psalms,  cxv,  16:  "  The  heavens,  even  the 
heavens,  are  the  Lord's:  but  the  earth  hath  he  given  to  the  children  of  men  " 
(King  James'  version).  The  Vulgate  reads  (cxiii,  16),  "Caelum  caeli  Domino; 
terrain  autem  dedit  filiis  hominum."  In  neither  case  is  the  idea  of  an  earthly 
kingship  implied.  It  is  evident  that  the  author  is  quoting  and  translating 
from  memory, 
t  /  Peter,  ii,  17. 





before  him  as  before  God;  for  in  so  doing  they  worship 
God  and  the  holy  name  which  the  king  bears  but  not 
the  king  himself .^It  is,  therefore,  in  the  very  nature 
of  kingship  to  inspire  all  with  a  great  awe  and  fear  of 
the  king,  wherefore  every  one  trembles  who  hears  him 
named.  But  he  ought  also  to  appear  gracious  and 
friendly  toward  all  good  men,  lest  any  one  should  fear 
him  so  much  as  to  be  deterred  from  presenting  any  im- 
portant request  to  him  because  of  his  severity. 

In  the  night,  as  soon  as  the  king  is  sated  with  sleep, 
it  should  be  his  duty  and  businesslto  center  his  thoughts 
upon  the  kingdom  as  a  whole  and  to  consider  how  his 
plans  may  be  formed  and  carried  out  in  such  a  way  that 
God  will  be  well  pleased  with  the  care  that  he  gives  to 
,the  realm!  also  how  it  may  be  made  most/profitable  and 
^obedient  to  himself;  further  what  measure  of  firmness 
<ne  must  use  in  restraining  the  rich  lest  they  become  too 
/  arrogant  toward  the  poor,  and  what  caution  in  uplifting 
I    the  poor,  lest  they  grow  too  defiant  toward  the  wealthy;"? 
wherefore  he  needs  to  ponder  and  plan  judiciously  how 
to  hold  everyone  to  moderation  in  the  estate  in  which 
he  is  placed.  This,  too,  the  king  must  be  sure  to  keep 
in  his  thoughts,  that  when  it  becomes  necessary  to 
chastise  those  who  are  not  satisfied  with  what  God  has 
planned  for  them,  he  must  not  be  so  lenient  in  his  pun- 
Jshment,  that  this  excessive  indulgence  should  lead  any- 
one to  consider  it  safe  to  transgress  what  ought  to  stand 
as  rightfully  ordained.  Nor  must  he  be  so  severe  in  his 
penalties  that  God  and  rightminded  men  will  regard 
him  as  punishing  more  from  a  cruel  disposition  than 
from  a  sense  of  justice.  These  things  and  many  more  a 


king  ought  to  reflect  upon  at  night  when  he  is  done  with 
sleep,  for  then  fewer  matters  will  come  upon  him  una- 
wares during  the  day,  when  the  needs  of  the  land  are 
presented  to  him. 


GOD'S    JUDGMENT    IN    THE    CASE    OF    ADAM    AND 
EVE,     IN     WHICH     CASE     TRUTH    AND     JUSTICE 

Son.  It  is  evident  that  a  king  must  possess  great 
constraint  and  an  even  greater  sense  of  justice,  as  you 
remarked  earlier,  if  he  is  to  find  the  true  mean  in  meting 
out  punishment  so  as  to  be  neither  too  lenient  nor  too 
severe.  And  now  I  wish  to  ask  whether  there  are  any 
examples  which  may  guide  him  toward  this  moderation, 
inasmuch  as  you  have  stated  that  every  king  should 
have  knowledge  of  all  the  examples  that  are  to  be  found. 

Father.  I  repeat  what  I  said  then  that  no  man  needs 
to  be  more  learned  or  better  informed  in  all  subjects 
than  a  king,  for  both  he  and  his  subjects  have  great 
need  of  this.  But  one  who  has  a  thorough  knowledge  of 
past  events  will  meet  but  few  contingencies  that  are 
really  unexampled.  Now  the  following  examples  are  very 
ancient,  and  every  king  should  keep  them  frequently 
before  his  eyes  and  seek  guidance  from  them  for  the 
government  of  his  kingdom. 

When  God  had  created  the  entire  world  and  had 
beautified  it  with  grass  and  other  herbage,  as  well  as 
with  birds  and  beasts,  He  appointed  two  human  beings, 


'a  man  and  a  woman,  to  have  dominion  over  everything. 
He  led  the  two,  Adam  and  Eve,  to  the  highest  point  of 
Paradise  and  showed  them  all  the  birds  and  beasts  and 
all  the  flowers  and  glories  of  Paradise.  Then  God  said 
to  Adam  and  Eve:  "  All  these  things  that  you  now  see 
I  give  to  you  for  your  maintenance  and  dominion,  if 
you  will  keep  the  covenant  which  I  now  establish  be- 
;tween  ourselves.  But  these  are  the  laws  which  you  must 
carefully  observe,  if  you  wish  to  keep  the  gifts  which  I 

ive  now  given  you:  that  beautiful  tree  which  you  see 
standing  with  lovely  apples  in  the  midst  of  Paradise  is 
[called  the  tree  of  knowledge,  and  the  fruit  which  the 
tree  bears  is  called  the  apples  of  knowledge.  This  tree 
you  must  not  touch  nor  may  you  eat  of  the  apples  which 
it  bears,  for  as  soon  as  you  eat  of  them  you  shall  die; 
but  of  everything  else  that  you  now  see  you  may  freely 
eat  according  to  desire."  Four  sisters  were  called  to  wit- 
ness this  covenant,  divine  virgins,  who  should  hear  the 
laws  decreed  and  learn  all  the  terms  of  the  agreement: 
the  first  was  named  Truth,  the  second,  Peace,  the  third, 
Justice,  and  the  fourth,  Mercy.  And  God  spoke  thus  to 
these  virgins:  "  I  command  you  to  see  to  it  that  Adam 
does  not  break  this  covenant  which  has  been  made  be- 
tween Me  and  him:  follow  him  carefully  and  protect 
him  as  long  as  he  observes  these  things  that  are  now 
decreed;  but  if  he  transgresses,  you  shall  sit  in  judg- 
ment with  your  Father,  for  you  are  the  daughters  of 
the  very  Judge." 

When  the  speech  was  ended,  God  vanished  from 
Adam's  sight;  and  Adam  went  forth  to  view  the  glories 
of  Paradise.  But  at  that  time  the  serpent,  which  was 


more  subtle  and  crafty  than  any  other  beast,  came  in 
the  guise  of  a  maiden  *  to  Eve,  Adam's  wife,  and  ad- 
dressed her  in  great  friendliness:  "  Blessed  is  your  hus-  '; 
band  and  you  with  him,  since  God  has  given  all  things 
into  your  power;  for  it  is  now  the  duty  of  every  beast  to 
obey  your  commands,  seeing  that  Adam  is  our  lord  and 
you  are  our  lady.  But  now  I  want  to  ask  you  whether 
God  has  withheld  anything  upon  earth  from  your  do- 
minion, or  whether  you  may  enjoy  all  things  as  you 
wish  without  hesitation."  Eve  replied:  "  God  has  given 
us  dominion  over  all  things  that  he  has  created  upon 
earth  except  the  tree  that  stands  in  the  midst  of  Para- 
dise; of  this  He  has  forbidden  us  to  eat,  having  said  that 
we  shall  die,  if  we  eat  thereof."  The  serpent  said  to  Eve: 
"  Oho,  my  lady !  He  does  not  wish  you  to  become  so 
wise  that  you  know  both  good  and  evil;  for  He  knows 
the  difference  between  good  and  evil  things,  while  you 
know  good  things  only.  But  when  you  have  eaten  of  the 
apples  of  knowledge,  you  will  become  like  God  and  will 
have  knowledge  of  evil  things  as  well  as  of  good."  As 
soon  as  the  serpent  had  disappeared  from  Eve's  sight, 
she  called  Adam  her  husband  and  told  him  all  this 
speech.  Then  she  took  two  of  the  apples  of  knowledge, 
ate  one  herself,  and  gave  the  other  to  Adam.  But  when 
they  had  eaten  these  apples,  their  knowledge  was  ex- 
tended to  evil  things,  as  the  serpent  had  said;  and  they 

*  The  compiler  of  Stjdrn,  an  Old  Norse  paraphrase  of  the  larger  part  of  the 
Old  Testament,  following  Petrus  Comestor's  Historia  Scholastica,  attributes 
to  Bede  the  statement  that  the  serpent  in  those  days  bore  the  face  of  a 
maiden  (p.  34).  The  author  of  the  King's  Mirror  cannot  have  used  Stj6rn,  as 
it  seems  to  be  a  production  of  the  fourteenth  century,  nor  is  there  any  evidence 
that  he  knew  the  Historia  Scholastica. 


began  to  observe  the  shapes  of  beasts  and  birds  and 
trees,  and  finally  how  they  themselves  were  formed. 
Then  said  Adam:  "  We  are  shamefully  naked,  we  two, 
for  there  is  nothing  to  hide  our  limbs;  beasts  are  covered 
with  hair  and  tail,  birds  with  feathers,  and  trees  with 
branches  and  leaves;  we  two  alone  have  shamefully 
naked  limbs."  Thereupon  they  took  broad  leaves  from 
the  trees  and  covered  those  of  their  members  which  they 
were  most  ashamed  to  have  naked.  Then  Peace  came 
forth  and  spoke  to  Adam  and  Eve:  "Now  you  have 
broken  the  law  and  your  covenant  with  God,  and  I  will 
no  longer  give  you  the  security  in  the  open  fields  that 
you  have  thus  far  enjoyed;  but  I  will  keep  you  safe  in 
a  secret  hiding  place  until  judgment  is  pronounced  in 
your  case;  and  I  give  you  this  safety  that  you  may  have 
opportunity  to  present  your  defense.  But  you  must  take 
good  care  to  make  a  plea  which  may  profit  you,  and 
prove  a  defense  rather  than  a  detriment."  Truth  came 
forth  and  spoke  to  Adam:  "  Take  heed,  when  you  come 
to  plead  your  case,  that  you  do  not  lie,  for  then  I  shall 
testify  with  you;  tell  everything  just  as  it  happened, 
for  if  you  lie  about  anything,  I  shall  testify  against  you 
at  once."  Justice  came  forth  and  said:  "  It  is  my  duty 
and  office  to  make  sure  that  you  are  not  unjustly  con- 
demned; but  the  more  you  are  found  guilty  of  lies  and 
wrongdoing,  the  more  shall  I  oppose  you."  Mercy  came 
forth  and  said  to  Adam:  "I  shall  add  assistance  and 
mercy  to  your  plea,  if  you  heed  carefully  all  that  my 
sisters  have  taught."  But  fear  had  come  upon  Adam 
and  he  went  away  to  hide  among  the  trees,  lest  he  should 
be  seen  naked. 


At  midday  God  went  forth  to  view  the  beauties  of 
Paradise  and  Adam's  stewardship;  but  as  He  did  not 
see  Adam  in  the  wide  fields,  He  called  him,  asking  where 
he  was.  Adam  replied:  "  I  hid  myself,  Lord,  because  I 
was  ashamed  to  show  myself  naked  before  Thy  face." 
God  answered,  saying:  "  Why  shouldst  thou  be  more 
ashamed  of  thy  nakedness  now  than  at  our  former  meet- 
ing, unless  it  be  that  thou  hast  broken  the  law  and  hast 
eaten  of  the  apples  of  knowledge,  which  I  forbade  thee 
to  eat."  Adam  replied  as  if  defending  himself:  "  The 
woman  that  Thou  gavest  me  led  me  into  this  fault;  if 
I  had  been  alone  about  my  affairs  and  if  Thou  hadst 
not  given  me  this  wife  to  advise  with  me,  I  should  have 
kept  the  appointed  law  and  should  not  have  trans- 
gressed Thy  command."  Then  God  said  to  Eve:  "  Why 
didst  thou  give  thy  husband  this  evil  counsel  to  break 
the  law  ?  "  Eve  replied  as  if  defending  her  case:  "  The 
crafty  serpent  gave  me  that  evil  advice;  had  he  not  been 
created  or  appeared  before  me,  I  should  not  have  come 
upon  this  evil  design."  Then  God  said:  "  Since  the  law 
has  now  been  broken,  I  want  those  virgins  whom  I  ap- 
pointed keepers  of  our  covenant  to  sit  in  judgment  with 
us.  Then  Truth  spoke:  "  It  is  my  duty  and  business  to 
show  Adam's  guilt,  inasmuch  as  he  has  concealed  with 
a  lie  what  most  of  all  led  him  to  transgress.  For  this  was 
the  chief  motive  in  your  case,  that  the  apples  were  fair 
and  pleasant  and  sweet  to  taste,  and  that  you  desired 
greatly  to  be  wiser  than  was  promised  you.  You  com- 
mitted a  theft  in  planning  to  take  them  secretly,  cov- 
etous robbery  in  taking  them  without  permission,  and 
an  act  of  insolent  pride  in  wishing  to  become  like  unto 


God  in  wisdom  beyond  what  was  promised  you."  Then 
God  said  to  Peace  that  she  should  give  a  brief  opinion 
in  the  case.  Peace  answered  in  this  wise:  "Whereas 
Thou  didst  appoint  me  to  watch  over  Adam's  safety 
as  long  as  there  was  no  transgression,  I  now  offer  to 
bring  him  an  even  greater  insecurity,  because  he  did 
not  know  how  to  keep  the  great  freedom  which  he  en- 
joyed before."  Then  .God  said  to  Justice  that  she  should 
give  judgment;  and  she  answered  in  this  wise:  "  Since 
Adam  was  unable  to  keep  the  freedom  that  Peace  had 
secured  for  him,  let  him  now  suffer  misery  and  distress 
instead;  and  because  he  coveted  knowledge  of  evil 
things,  let  him  experience  evil  in  place  of  good;  and 
because  he  wished  to  make  himself  like  God  in  knowl- 
edge beyond  what  was  permitted,  and  blamed  God  for 
his  transgression  with  lying  excuses,  let  him  suffer  the 
death  of  which  he  was  warned  before  he  transgressed." 
Then  God  said  to  Mercy  that  she  should  pass  judgment 
on  this  transgression.  Mercy  replied  in  these  words: 
"As  it  is  my  nature  to  urge  forbearance  and  clemency 
to  some  degree  in  every  case,  I  request  that  Adam  be 
not  destroyed  through  a  merciless  death;  but  since  he 
now  must  repent  of  his  error  as  long  as  he  lives,  let  him 
have  hope  of  mercy  and  help  in  his  death,  as  long  as  he 
does  not  despair/' 

Then  it  was  discussed  whether,  in  case  he  had  sons, 
they  should  suffer  for  his  sin,  or  be  allowed  to  enjoy  the 
gifts  and  the  riches  that  God  had  given  him  at  the  be- 
ginning, but  from  which  he  had  been  ousted  like  an 
outlaw.  Justice  said:  "How  can  his  sons,  who  will  be 
begotten  in  exile,  enjoy  those  gifts  that  he  forfeited  as 



an  outlaw  because  of  transgression  ?  Let  his  sons  follow 
him  to  the  death.  But  whereas  he  shall  have  hope  of 
mercy  and  leniency  and  of  a  return  to  the  possessions 
which  he  has  now  forfeited,  let  his  sons  be  recalled  with 
him  through  a  new  covenant."  And  when  sentence  had 
been  passed  in  Adam's  case,  the  sisters  all  came  to  a 
friendly  agreement;  Mercy  and  Truth  embraced  while 
Justice  and  Peace  kissed  each  other  with  loving  ges- 

Now  every  king  ought  to  have  these  two  things  fre- 
quently in  mind :  how  God  appeased  His  anger  toward 
the  man  and  the  woman  for  breaking  the  law,  and  what 
judges  He  called  in,  lest  His  punishment  should  be  too 

*  The  story  of  the  court  proceedings  in  Paradise  after  the  fall  of  man  and  the 
discussion  between  Mercy  and  Peace  on  the  one  side  and  Truth  and  Justice 
on  the  other  was  widely  current  in  the  thirteenth  century.  It  made  an  impor- 
tant scene  in  certain  types  of  mystery  plays,  and  it  seems  quite  likely  that  the 
source  of  the  version  given  in  the  King's  Mirror  must  be  sought  in  some  dra- 
matic representation  of  the  creation  story.  The  account  of  the  trial  was  made 
the  theme  of  two  poems  in  Old  French  which  have  been  attributed  to  the 
English  ecclesiastics  Archbishop  Langton  and  Bishop  Grosseteste,  both  of 
whom  were  contemporaries  of  our  Norwegian  author. 

Homilies  were  written  on  this  theme  in  the -twelfth  century  by  St.  Bernard 
of  Clairvaux  (Migne,  Patrologia  Latina,  CLXXXIII,  770)  and  by  Hugh  of  St. 
Victor  (ibid.,  CLXXVII,  623-626).  There  is  a  still  earlier  version  of  the  story 
in  a  homily  attributed,  though  for  no  good  reason,  to  the  Venerable  Bede. 
According  to  this  story  a  man  has  a  son  and  four  daughters  named  Mercy, 
Truth,  Peace,  and  Justice.  He  also  has  a  servant  whom  he  wishes  to  try  by 
giving  him  an  easy  task.  The  servant  fails  and  is  handed  over  to  the 
executioner.  The  daughters  now  come  into  violent  disagreement,  but  the  son 
finds  a  way  out  of  the  difficulty:  he  saves  the  servant  and  succeeds  in  bring- 
ing the  sisters  into  agreement.  Ibid.,  XCIV,  505-507. 

W.  Scherer,  in  Zeitschrift  fur  deutsche  Altertumskunde,  N.  F.,  IX,  414-416, 
finds  traces  of  the  legend  in  Talmudic  sources.  In  the  Hebrew  story,  however, 
the  disagreement  is  over  the  expediency  of  creating  man,  Mercy  favoring  and 
Truth  opposing  the  project.  The  ultimate  source  appears  to  be  Psalms, 
Ixxxv,  10:  "Mercy  and  truth  are  met  together;  righteousness  and  peace 
have  kissed  each  other." 

For  bibliographical  information  see  L.  Petit  du  Juleville,  Les  Mysteres, 
II,  359. 


severe  and  merciless.  Moreover,  a  king  does  justice  to 
all  men  when  he  does  justice  to  any  man  or  woman;  but 
all  decisions  which  imply  punishment  he  must  always 
consider  in  the  presence  of  these  four  sisters;  and  it  must 
be  such  as  will  bring  them  into  agreement,  so  that  they 
can  kiss  and  embrace  each  other,  in  which  case  the 
judgment  will  be  neither  too  lenient  nor  too  severe.  A 
king  ought  to  consider  very  carefully  how  to  bring  the 
minds  of  the  sisters  into  agreement;  for  in  all  trials 
they  are  arranged  and  seated  apart  in  groups;  Truth 
and  Justice  on  one  side  of  the  court  and  Mercy  and 
Peace  on  the  other.  They  should  be  agreed  and  unani- 
mous in  every  case;  but  it  frequently  occurs  that  Peace 
and  Mercy  give  the  whole  suit  over  to  Truth  and  Jus- 
tice, though  all  unite  in  the  verdict  none  the  less.  Some- 
times it  happens  that  each  of  the  sisters  has  a  full  voice 
in  the  decision  according  to  right  reckoning;  but  at 
other  times  it  may  be  that  the  larger  share  falls  to  Peace 
and  Mercy;  but  the  sisters  are  unanimous  in  the  verdict 
none  the  less.  It  has  also  happened  at  times  that,  after 
a  verdict  has  been  reached  and  confirmed,  Mercy  and 
Peace  have  exercised  leniency  because  of  the  prayers 
and  repentance  of  him  who  was  in  need  of  it. 





Son.  It  looks  to  me  now  as  if  this  is  a  more  intricate 
matter  than  I  thought  earlier;  for  it  must  require  great 
understanding  and  insight  to  harmonize  the  opinions 


of  these  sisters  so  that  they  will  always  be  unanimous, 
seeing  that  the  verdict  sometimes  leans  more  to  one 
side  than  to  the  other.  For  you  remarked  that  at  times 
the  whole  verdict  falls  to  Truth  and  Justice  and  no 
leniency  is  shown,  while  at  other  times  the  larger  share 
may  fall  to  Peace  and  Mercy;  and  you  also  stated  that 
sometimes  a  sentence  has  been  modified  after  it  was 
agreed  to  and  confirmed.  Now  you  have  stated  that 
one  can  find  examples  of  most  things,  if  one  looks  for 
for  them;  and  if  there  are  any  instances  of  such  pro- 
ceedings, I  should  like  to  hear  about  them,  so  that  the 
subject  may  look  clearer  to  me  and  also  to  others  who 
may  hear  about  it.  And  it  must  surely  be  the  highest 
duty  of  kings  to  be  well  informed  on  such  things,  as  on 
all  other  subjects,  since  they  will  need  them  very  fre- 

Father.  The  world  is  now  so  ancient  that,  no  matter 
what  comes  to  -pass,  one  is  likely  to  find  that  similar 
events  have  occurred  before;  and  nothing  is  likely  to 
happen  of  which  a  learned  man  can  find  no  examples. 
But  of  the  fact  that  the  entire  judgment  may  fall  to 

Truth  and  Justice,  no  mercy  being  shown,  there  are 


cases^which  occurred  so  early  that  I  know  of  none  be- 
foxe  them.  [When  Lucifer,  an  angel  in  heaven,  turned     j 
traitor  and  committed  a  base  crime  against  his  Lord,    /" 
Truth  and  Justice  condemned  him  to  swift  downfall  f    ~ 
without  hope  of  pardon.  Into  this  condemnation  all  \ 
his  comrades  and  counsellors  fell  with  him.  And  these  ( 
were  the  crimes  which  God  punished  with  a  merciless   ) 
doom.  ~7 






Son.  I  must  ask  you  not  to  take  offence  if  the  ques- 
tions which  I  wish  to  bring  up  should  seem  childish  and 
ill  advised;  but  since  I  do  not  fully  understand  the  sub- 
ject that  I  intend  to  ask  about  next,  it  may  also  be  that 
there  are  others  who  do  not  understand  it  any  better 
than  I.  And  it  is  that  matter  about  the  serpent,  which, 
you  said,  came  to  Eve,  and  speaking  to  her  like  a  man 
egged  her  on  to  transgress  the  law.  Now  I  wish  to  ask 
whether  the  serpent,  unlike  other  beasts,  was  created 
with  power  of  speech;  or  whether  other  animals  could 
speak  in  those  days,  though  now  they  ar,e  all  dumb ;  and 
for  what  reason  the  serpent  wished  to  lead  the  woman 
into  transgression. 

Father.  We  have  had  a  very  lengthy  speech  before  us, 
and  if  we  were  to  comment  on  the  whole,  it  would  lengthen 
very  much  a  discussion  that  is  already  long;  but  certain 
it  is,  we  have  spoken  very  few  words  which  would  not 
be  in  need  of  comment,  if  a  well  informed  man,  who 
thoroughly  understands  all  these  speeches,  should  come 
to  the  task.  But  I  believe  it  is  more  advisable  for  us  to 
continue  as  we  have  been  doing  since  we  began  our  con- 
versation, and  leave  the  task  of  glossing  our  remarks  to 
others  who  may  hear  them  later  and  are  willing  to  do 
the  work  with  faithful  care.  Still,  inasmuch  as  every 


question  looks  toward  some  reply  or  solution,  it  is 
proper  that  I  should  enlarge  somewhat  on  this  speech, 
so  as  to  make  the  subject  a  little  clearer  to  you  and  to 
others  who  do  not  understand  it  better  than  you  do.  I 
shall,  however,  run  over  it  in  a  few  words  only,  for  I  do 
not  care  much  to  comment  on  my  own  remarks. 

You  have  asked  whether  serpents  and  other  beasts 
were  created  with  the  power  of  speech  in  the  days  when 
Adam  was  appointed  keeper  of  Paradise,  and  you  shall 
know  of  a  truth  that  the  gift  of  speech  was  not  given  to 
any  bodily  creature  but  man.  And  since  you  wish  to 
know  why  speech  was  given  to  the  serpent  and  why  it 
wished  to  lead  the  woman  into  transgression,  I  shall 
now  proceed  to  explain.  The  explanation  begins  with 
the  fact  that  God  created  angels  before  men.  The  angels 
were  immortal  spirits,  free  from  all  corporal  weakness, 
and  endowed  with  great  beauty.  But  though  created 
with  perfect  beauty,  they  were  held  subject  to  this  law,  \ 
that  they  must  show  love  and  obedience  toward  their  S 
Creator  in  humility  and  without  deceit.  It  was  promised -' 
them  that  they  should  keep  their  beauty  and  all  the 
other  honors  that  God  had  given  them,  as  long  as  they 
kept  this  law;  at  the  same  time  God  gave  them  full 
freedom  to  violate  the  law,  if  they  wished;  for  He  spoke 
to  them  in  this  wise:  "  Since  you  were  all  created  at  the 
same  moment  and  none  was  begotten  by  another,  each 
one  of  you  shall  decide  for  himself  and  none  for  another 
whether  these  laws  that  I  have  now  ordained  shall  be 
kept  or  broken.  And  if  there  are  those  who  transgress  l 
them,  they  shall  be  driven  out  of  this  life  of  bliss;  while  / 
those  who  observe  the  laws  shall  continue  to  enjoy  un-  ^ 


ceasing  happiness  and  unending  life  in  my  noble  service. 
And  I  give  you  all  a  free  choice  to  keep  these  laws  or  to 
break  them  as  you  may  prefer,  in  order  that  those  who 
observe  them  may  be  set  apart  as  my  chosen  jewels, 
while  those  who  violate  them  shall  suffer  hatred  and  be 
driven  into  cruel  thralldom  and  wretched  service." 

These  angels  were  all  fair,  but  one  was  more  handsome 
than  all  the  rest,  wherefore  he  was  called  Lucifer;  he 
was  appointed  chief  of  many  angels  and  a  great  multi- 
tude made  obeisance  to  him  in  service  and  friendship. 
But  God  having  finished  his  speech,  Lucifer  turned  away 
from  God  with  all  his  following  as  if  toward  the  north 
and  spoke  thus:  "  Why  should  we  suffer  threats  from 
God  in  return  for  our  service,  seeing  that  we  have  power, 
beauty  and  numbers  in  full  measure  to  maintain  our 
prestige  PJNow  I  intend,  like  God,  to  set  up  a  high-seat 
in  the  northern  part  of  heavenf  and  to  extend  a  wise 
control  over  half  of  heaven  or  even  more."  Then  God 
answered  and  said  to  Lucifer:  "Since  thou  hast  broken 
the  law  by  treacherous  rebellion,  thou  canst  no  longer 
have  habitation  with  us;  and  whereas  thou  wouldst  en- 
joy dominion,  depart  to  the  kingdom  that  is  prepared 
for  thee,  where  thou  shalt  have  suffering  instead  of  free- 
dom, misery  instead  of  bliss,  sorrows  of  every  kind  but 
no  joy.  Let  all  those  go  with  thee  who  did  not  oppose 
thy  design."  And  as  God  looked  upon  them  in  his  wrath, 
all  the  heavens  trembled  before  His  countenance;  and 
His  enemies  fled  with  a  terrible  downfall,  and  they  suf- 

*  The  statement  that  Lucifer  planned  to  set  up  a  rival  throne  in  the  northern 
regions  of  heaven  also  appears  in  the  Michaels  Saga  (Heilagra  Manna  Sogur, 
I,  677).  It  was  apparently  a  common  belief  in  medieval  Christendom  and  was 
based  on  Isaiah,  xiv,  13. 


fered  a  horrible  change  of  countenance  in  the  loss  of 
their  beauty.  Thereupon  they  sought  out  the  places  that 
were  assigned  to  them  and  were  scattered  about  in  all 
the  caves  of  hell,  each  appointed  to  a  separate  service. 
In  this  way  darkness  was  separated  from  light. 

But  when  God  had  made  man  and  had  given  him  a 
blissful  life  in  Paradise,  Lucifer  said  to  his  companions : 
"It  is  evidently  God's  intention  to  give  this  one  the 
dominion  from  which  He  drove  me  out,  unless  he  shall 
act  counter  to  God's  will.  Even  if  God  should  appoint 
other  angels  in  our  stead,  we  could  never  allow  it,  if  we 
could  do  anything  to  prevent  it;  but  our  disgrace  would 
be  too  great,  if  a  man  formed  of  clay  or  the  filthy  dust 
of  the  earth  were  to  enter  into  the  eternal  happiness 
from  which  we  were  expelled.  Therefore  we  must  fight 
incessantly  against  everyone  who  has  such  ambitions 
and  revenge  our  injuries  with  fierce  hatred  upon  all 
those  whom  we  can  overcome.  Now  I  shall  try  to  gain 
a  victory  over  the  first  man  that  God  has  created,  so 
that  my  companions  may  be  able  to  overcome  those 
who  come  later."  Then  he  armed  himself  with  seven 
wiles  from  which  he  expected  great  aid:  the  first  was 
venomous  envy;  the  second,  burning  hatred;  the  third, 
false  cunning;  the  fourth,  specious  deception;  the  fifth, 
haughty  arrogance;  the  sixth,  covetous  self-seeking;  the 
seventh,  lustful  desire.  Then  he  said  to  himself:  "  Inas- 
much as  I  am  now  an  invisible  spirit,  I  cannot  visibly 
come  to  have  speech  with  physical  man,  unless  I  adorn 
my  ugly  countenance  with  a  certain  corporeal  beauty. 
I  shall  therefore  enter  this  serpent  which  God  has  cre- 
ated with  the  face  of  a  maiden  and  which  most  resembles 


man  in  beauty;  and  I  shall  speak  with  his  tongue  to 
Eve,  Adam's  wife,  and  learn  from  her  whether  they  are 
created  to  full  freedom  without  obedience  to  law,  or 
whether  God  has  given  them  laws  to  keep,  through 
which  I  may  be  able  to  ruin  their  covenant  with  Him." 
Thereupon  this  envious  spirit  sought  the  serpent  that 
is  now  called  the  asp,  which  in  those  days  walked  with 
upright  form  on  two  feet  like  man  and  had  a  face  like 
a  maiden's,  as  we  have  just  said.  And  when  the  evil 
minded  spirit  came  to  Eve  concealed  in  the  body  of  this 
serpent,  he  made  use  of  the  artifice  that  is  called  specious 
deception,  for  he  spoke  to  Eve  with  seductive  sweetness 
using  these  words:  "Blessed  is  thy  husband  and  thou 
likewise."  This  praise  he  did  not  give  them  out  of  good 
will;  rather  did  he  praise  their  happiness  in  order  to 
drag  them  into  misery  through  hatred  and  envy,  and 
he  used  false  cunning  when  he  asked  Eve  to  tell  him 
whether  God  had  given  everything  to  Adam  to  control 
and  to  enjoy  without  restriction.  But  when  Eve  in  re- 
turn for  his  sweet  words  had  given  the  desired  informa- 
tion, and  he  heard  that  death  was  to  be  their  part  if 
they  transgressed,  he  was  glad,  and  then  made  use  of 
haughty  arrogance  in  suggesting  to  Eve  that  they  could 
become  like  God  in  knowledge  in  this  respect,  that  they 
might  be  able  to  know  good  from  evil.  But  he  used  lust- 
ful desire  when  he  bade  her  try  how  sweet  and  fragrant 
was  the  apple  of  knowledge  which  was  forbidden  her. 
And  he  employed  covetous  self-seeking  when  he  caused 
Eve  to  take  for  her  own  what  God  had  earlier  forbidden 
her;  for  God  had  given  everything  into  the  power  of 
Adam  and  Eve,  except  this  tree;  but  they  longed  to 


have  this  even  without  permission,  though  everything 
else  was  in  their  power.  They  knew  this  one  difference 
between  good  and  evil,  that  good  was  better  than  evil; 
wherefore  they  feared  the  death  that  was  assured  them. 
But  having  never  tasted  the  bitterness  of  evil,  they 
could  not  know  what  great  misery  they  would  suffer 
for  transgression;  but  they  thought  it  would  be  a  great 
distinction  to  be  like  God  in  knowledge,  and  to  know 
the  difference  between  good  and  evil  things.  But  when 
the  serpent  urged  Eve  to  eat  of  the  apples  of  knowledge, 
she  began  to  fear  death,  and  replied  thus  to  the  serpent: 
"  I  fear  that,  if  I  eat,  I  shall  die,  for  such  is  God's 
threat.  Now  do  you  eat  first  while  I  look,  and  if  you  do 
not  die,  I  will  eat,  for  if  this  fruit  really  does  possess 
death  dealing  powers,  it  will  surely  prove  baneful  to 
other  living  beings  besides  me."  Then  the  spirit  that 
was  concealed  in  the  serpent  said  to  himself:  "  I  may 
indeed  eat  the  apple,  for  it  will  make  me  no  more  guilty 
or  mortal,  inasmuch  as  I  am  already  in  the  full  wrath 
of  God."  But  these  words  the  woman  did  not  hear. 
Then  Eve  took  an  apple  and  placed  it  in  the  serpent's 
mouth  and  he  ate  forthwith.  And  when  she  saw  that 
it  did  him  no  harm,  she  immediately  picked  another 
apple  and  ate;  and  she  found  it  very  sweet,  just  as  the 
serpent  had  told  her. 

Thereupon  the  serpent  vanished  from  Eve's  sight; 
but  she  called  Adam  her  husband  and  told  him  these 
things.  But  because  he,  too,  feared  the  death  that  God 
had  threatened,  he  would  not  eat,  unless  he  should  see 
Eve  eat  first.  So  Eve  took  two  more  apples  and  boldly 
ate  the  one  forthwith,  for  she  had  already  tasted  the 


sweetness  of  the  fruit,  and  instead  of  feeling  shame  for 
what  she  had  already  done,  she  longed  to  taste  it  of  tener. 
When  Adam  saw  that  it  did  her  no  harm  (and  he  even 
observed  a  pleasurable  sweetness  upon  her  lips),  he 
took  the  apple  that  she  had  offered  him  and  ate  just 
as  she  had  done.  But  when  they  had  eaten  the  apple, 
their  eyes  were  opened  to  a  greater  knowledge  than 
they  had  had  before,  just  as  the  serpent  had  predicted: 
for  immediately  they  were  ashamed  of  their  naked 
limbs,  since  they  saw  that  the  bodies  of  the  birds  were 
covered  with  feathers  and  those  of  the  beasts  with  hair, 
while  their  own  bodies  were  naked,  and  they  were  much 
ashamed  of  that.  But  most  of  all  did  it  shame  them  to 
know  that  their  transgression  had  made  them  guilty 
before  God;  and  they  bore  their  bodies  in  fear  and  were 
ashamed  of  their  naked  limbs.  Soon  they  went  to  hide 
among  the  trees,  thus  giving  proof  of  their  shortsighted- 
ness, for  they  did  not  realize  that  God  had  such  knowl- 
edge of  His  handiwork  and  all  the  things  that  He  had 
made,  that  neither  bushes  nor  forests  could  hide  them 
from  His  sight,  since  even  the  secret  hiding  places  in  the 
caverns  of  hell  lie  bare  and  visible  before  His  eyes  at 
all  times. 

But  while  Adam  was  in  hiding,  God  spoke  to  the 
spirit  that  was  concealed  in  the  serpent:  "  Through 
pride  and  evil  intent  thou  didst  raise  the  first  rebellion, 
there  being  none  to  ensnare  thee,  only  thine  own  pride 
and  envy;  wherefore  Mine  anger  rages  against  thee 
without  mercy,  and  thou  has  forfeited  eternal  happi- 
ness and  all  hope  of  returning  to  it.  Thou  hast  now  a 
second  time  stirred  My  heart  to  anger  because  of  the 


sin  that  has  just  been  committed.  Adam  will  have  to 
suffer  punishment  for  his  transgression,  but  he  shall 
still  have  hope  of  return  and  mercy,  because  he  came 
into  My  wrath  on  account  of  thy  wickedness  and  se- 
ductive guile.  And  as  thou  overcamest  Adam's  wife 
while  she  was  yet  a  virgin,  so  shall  one  of  her  daughters, 
also  a  virgin,  win  a  triumph  over  thee.  And  just  as  thou 
seemest  now  to  have  led  Adam  with  all  his  possessions 
and  kinship  as  spoils  into  thy  dominion,  so  shall  one  of 
his  sons  search  all  thy  garners  and  carry  all  thy  treasures 
away  as  spoils;  and  leading  forth  Adam  and  all  his  faith- 
ful kinsmen  out  of  thy  power  in  a  glorious  triumph,  he 
shall  appoint  him  to  an  honored  place  among  his  sons 
in  the  kingdom  which  thou  wert  fittingly  deprived  of. 
And  as  a  green  tree  bore  the  fruit  through  which  thou 
hast  now  won  thy  victory,  so  shall  a  dry  tree  bear  the 
fruit  through  which  thy  victory  shall  be  brought  to 
naught."  Then  God  spoke  to  the  serpent  in  which  the 
spirit  had  concealed  himself:  "  Cursed  art  thou  before 
all  the  beasts  upon  earth;  because  thou  hast  received 
Mine  enemy  and  concealed  him  from  the  eyes  of  Eve 
to  the  end  that,  hidden  in  thee,  he  might  win  a  victory 
over  mankind.  Therefore  shalt  thou  lose  the  likeness  to 
a  maiden's  face  which  thy  countenance  has  borne  and 
shalt  henceforth  bear  a  grim  and  ugly  face  hateful  to 
mankind;  thou  shalt  lose  the  feet  that  bore  thy  body 
upright  and  henceforth  crawl  upon  breast  and  belly. 
Bitter  and  unclean  dust  shall  be  thy  food,  because  thou 
atest  of  the  apple  which  thou  tookest  from  the  hand  of 
Eve.  Thou  shalt  be  a  self-chosen  vessel  of  venom  and 
death  as  evidence  that  thou  didst  hide  venomous  envy 


in  thy  body.  I  declare  the  covenant  sundered  between 
thee  and  all  mankind;  thy  head  and  neck  shall  be 
crushed  under  the  heel  and  the  tread  of  men  in  revenge 
for  the  treachery  which  mankind  has  suffered  through 
thy  slippery  cunning.  And  since  thou  didst  cause  man 
to  break  the  law  with  his  mouth  and  in  eating,  the 
spittle  that  comes  forth  from  the  mouth  of  a  fasting 
man  shall  prove  as  dangerous  a  venom  to  thy  life,  if 
thou  taste  it,  as  thy  venom  is  to  man,  if  he  taste  it." 

Then  God,  calling  Adam  and  Eve,  asked  where  they 
were.  And  Adam  replied:  "  We  hid  ourselves,  Lord,  be- 
ing ashamed  to  appear  naked  before  Thy  face."  In  the 
first  word  that  Adam  answered  God,  he  lied  to  Him; 
for  they  knew  themselves  guilty  of  violating  the  law 
and  hid  for  that  reason;  but  Adam  concealed  this  in  the 
answer  that  he  gave  to  God.  Then  God  said  to  him: 
"  Why  should  you  be  more  ashamed  of  your  nakedness 
now  than  when  we  last  talked  together,  unless  it  be  that 
you  have  increased  in  knowledge  from  eating  the  apples 
that  I  forbade  you  ?  "  But  when  Adam  saw  that  he 
could  not  conceal  how  they  had  broken  the  law,  he 
sought  to  escape  by  placing  the  blame  for  the  act  on 
another  rather  than  on  himself,  for  he  answered  in  these 
words:  "  If  I  had  been  alone  about  my  affairs  and  if 
Thou  hadst  not  given  me  this  woman  to  advise  with 
me,  I  should  have  kept  the  appointed  law  and  would 
not  have  broken  Thy  commands."  These  words  added 
greatly  to  Adam's  guilt  in  God's  eyes,  for  he  sought  de- 
fense rather  than  mercy.  But  if  he  had  spoken  in  this 
wise:  "Remember  now,  O  Lord,  that  I  am  formed  of 
fragile  stuff  like  a  pot  of  brittle  clay,  and  am  in  greater 


need  of  Thy  forbearance  and  mercy  than  the  merits  of 
my  case  can  demand,  for  in  my  weakness  I  have  fallen 
into  great  guilt  against  Thee,  O  Lord,  because  of  my 
transgression,"  —  then  his  guilt  would  at  once  have 
been  lessened  in  the  sight  of  God,  inasmuch  as  he  would 
be  seeking  mercy  but  not  defense.  But  when  God  heard 
Adam  replying  as  if  excusing  himself,  He  said  as  if  in 
wrath:  "  Thou  shalt  put  no  blame  upon  Me  for  creating 
the  woman;  for  I  gave  her  to  thee  to  be  a  delight  and 
a  companion,  not  that  thou  shouldst  commit  law-break- 
ing by  her  counsel.  I  even  warned  thee  not  to  transgress 
and  told  thee  what  guilt  threatened  if  thou  didst  break 
the  law.  Why  then  didst  thou  follow  thy  wife's  miserable 
advice  rather  than  My  saving  counsel,  if  thou  didst  not 
do  it  through  pride  and  avarice,  wishing  to  equal  Me 
in  knowledge  and  therefore  eager  to  know  what  was 
not  promised  thee  ?  " 

After  that  God  spoke  to  Eve:  "  Why  didst  thou  egg 
thy  husband  on  to  transgress  ?  "  And  Eve  was  anxious 
that  another  should  bear  the  blame  for  her  guilt  rather 
than  herself,  for  she  spoke  in  this  wise:  "  This  crafty  ser- 
pent gave  me  that  evil  advice;  had  he  not  been  created 
or  appeared  before  me,  I  should  not  have  transgressed 
or  egged  on  my  husband  to  transgress."  When  God 
heard  Eve's  excuse,  He  spoke  in  His  wrath:  "  It  looks 
to  Me  as  if  you  both  wish  to  blame  Me  for  your  law- 
breaking:  Adam  blamed  Me  for  having  created  thee  to 
advise  with  him,  and  now  thou  findest  fault  with  Me 
for  having  created  the  serpent.  I  created  the  serpent  as 
I  created  all  the  other  beasts  of  the  earth,  but  I  did  not 
give  him  to  you  as  a  counsellor;  on  the  contrary,  I  made 


him  subject  to  your  dominion  like  all  the  other  beasts 
of  the  earth.  I  warned  you  both  to  commit  no  sin  and 
told  you  to  look  for  death,  if  you  did.  Now  your  deed 
appears  no  better  in  your  defense  than  before  in  the 
transgression;  wherefore  you  shall  suffer  the  death  with 
which  I  threatened  you.  Though  you  may  not  immedi- 
ately fall  down  dead,  you  shall,  nevertheless,  in  your 
death  suffer  a  long  punishment  for  your  offence,  and  all 
your  offspring  shall  be  responsible  with  you  for  this 
transgression.  And  the  while  that  you  live  upon  earth 
you  shall  suffer  sorrowful  distress  instead  of  enjoying 
the  blissful  freedom  which  you  knew  not  how  to  keep. 
And  whereas  thou  didst  transgress  before  Adam,  I  will 
increase  thy  troubles  beyond  what  you  are  both  to  suf- 
fer: thou  shalt  be  subject  to  the  control  of  thy  husband 
and  to  all  his  commands,  and  shalt  therefore  seem  of 
lesser  importance  and  lower  in  the  sight  of  thy  sons. 
The  children  that  thou  shalt  conceive  in  lustful  passion 
thou  shalt  bring  forth  in  pain  and  imminent  peril;  it 
shall  also  be  thy  duty  to  give  thy  children  all  forms  of 
service  in  toil  and  troublesome  care  while  bringing  them 

Then  God  said:  "  Adam  has  now  become  as  wise  as 
any  one  of  us,  knowing  good  and  evil.  Have  care  that  he 
does  not  eat  from  the  tree  of  life  without  permission, 
as  he  did  of  the  apples  of  knowledge,  lest  he  live  eter- 
nally in  his  guilt."  Thereupon  God  appointed  Cherubim 
to  guard  the  path  leading  to  the  tree  of  life  with  a  flam- 
ing sword  which  constantly  turned  its  fiery  edge  in 
every  direction  so  that  none  could  pass  forward  with- 
out permission.  Then  God  said  to  Adam:  "Because 


thou  didst  hearken  to  thy  wife's  evil  advice  rather  than 
to  my  good  counsel  'and  hast  eaten  of  the  forbidden 
fruit,  the  earth,  which  gave  thee  all  manner  of  desirable 
fruit  in  her  motherly  kindness,  shall  be  cursed  through 
thy  deed.  As  if  in  sorrowful  wrath,  she  shall  refuse  thee 
such  herbs  as  thou  mayest  think  suitable  for  food: 
thistles  and  weeds  shall  she  give  thee  for  herbs,  unless 
thou  till  her  soil  with  labor  and  drench  it  with  thy  sweat; 
for  henceforth  thou  shalt  gain  thy  food  upon  earth  with 
toil."  Thereafter  God  gave  Adam  and  Eve  coats  of  skin 
and  said  to  them:  "Since  you  are  ashamed  of  your 
naked  limbs,  cover  yourselves  now  with  the  garments 
of  travail  and  sorrow  and  fare  forth  into  the  wide  fields 
to  find  your  food  with  irksome  toil.  And  finally  you 
shall  rest  in  the  deathlike  embraces  of  earth  and  be 
changed  again  naturally  into  the  mortal  materials  from 
which  you  were  made  in  the  beginning."  Then  said 
Adam:  "  For  justice  and  mercy  I  thank  Thee,  O  Lord, 
for  I  see  clearly  how  greatly  I  have  sinned;  likewise  do 
I  own  Thy  grace  in  that  I  am  not  to  suffer  merciless 
destruction  like  Lucifer.  Sorrowing  shall  I  descend  into 
the  deathlike  shadows  of  hell;  yet  I  shall  ever  rejoice 
in  the  hope  of  returning;  for  in  this  I  trust  to  Thee,  O 
Lord,  that  Thou  wilt  show  me  the  light  of  life  even  in 
the  darkness  of  death.  And  I  shall  ever  look  forward  to 
the  day  when  he,  who  is  now  rejoicing  in  my  misfortune 
as  in  a  victory  won,  shall  be  afflicted  by  our  returning 
as  one  who  is  overcome  and  deprived  of  victory."  Then 
Eve  said:  "  Though  we  now  depart  in  sorrow,  Lord,  be- 
cause of  our  great  misdoing,  we  shall  take  joy  in  Thy 
merciful  lenience  in  our  distress."  Then  God  disappeared 


from  their  sight;  and  they  began  to  till  the  earth  as  God 
had  commanded. 

Now  I  have  done  as  you  requested,  having  explained 
briefly  why  the  serpent  sought  speech  with  the  woman 
and  what  caused  him  to  egg  the  woman  on  to  violate 
the  law.  Still,  I  have  taken  up  only  what  is  most  easily 
grasped  in  this  speech;  for  the  task  of  glossing  our  dis- 
course after  deep  meditation  I  prefer  to  leave  to  others. 
But  let  us  continue  straight  ahead  in  the  discussion  as 
we  have  begun,  since  we  do  not  have  time  to  do  both. 



Son.  I  now  see  clearly  why  you  regard  the  answers 
to  my  last  questions  as  glosses  and  interpretations  of 
the  speeches  which  you  gave  earlier  rather  than  a  con- 
tinuation of  our  original  plan;  and  I  fear  that,  if  I 
should  ask  you  to  enlarge  further  upon  this  subject, 
you  will  consider  my  questions  unwise.  But  having  been 
granted  freedom  to  ask  about  whatever  I  have  the  curi- 
osity to  know,  I  shall  venture  another  question:  and  I 
shall  continue  to  look  for  good  answers  as  before,  even 
though  my  questions  be  childish.  Now  you  have  brought 
out  that,  when  the  serpent  spoke  to  the  woman  as  he 
did,  it  was  the  spirit  speaking  with  the  serpent's  tongue. 
You  have  likewise  shown  me  why  the  woman  was  led 
into  sin;  that  Lucifer  was  inspired  by  malicious  envy 
to  hinder  man  from  coming  into  the  dominion  from 
which  he  himself  had  been  expelled.  And  in  your  dis- 
cussion of  the  judgments  of  God  you  had  something  to 


say  both  about  Lucifer  and  about  Adam,  which  I  am 
not  sure  has  often  been  heard  before.  Now  if  I  should 
on  occasion  recall  these  remarks  and  repeat  them  as  I 
have  heard  you  state  them,  it  may  be  that  someone  hear- 
ing me  will  say  that  he  has  never  heard  this  account 
beforehand  therefore  I  want  to  ask  you  to  tell  me  what 
facts  I  could  state  in  my  reply,  so  that  I  shall  not  seem 
to  withdraw  my  statements  on  account  of  ignorance 
but  rather  find  such  means  to  support  them,  that  all 
will  think  them  true  rather  than  false. 

Father.  The  glosses  to  a  speech  are  like  the  boughs 
and  branches  of  a  tree.  First  the  roots  send  up  a  stem 
which  again  branches  out  into  many  limbs  and  boughs. 
And  whatever  limb  you  take,  if  you  examine  it  with 
proper  care,  you  will  find  it  joined  to  the  stem  which 
originally  sprang  up  from  the  roots;  and  all  the  boughs 
and  branches  draw  nourishment  from  the  roots  from 
which  the  stem  grows.  But  if  you  hew  off  a  limb  and 
cast  it  far  away  from  the  tree,  and  one  should  find  it 
who  knows  not  where  it  grew,  it  will  look  to  him  like 
every  other  branch  which  he  finds  on  his  way,  seeing 
that  he  does  not  know  where  it  has  grown.  But  if  he 
carries  it  back  to  the  stem  from  which  it  was  cut  and 
fits  it  there,  the  branch  itself  will  testify  as  to  what 
roots  it  sprang  from.  It  is  the  same  with  the  interpre- 
tation of  a  sermon;  if  a  man  knows  how  to  present  a 
speech  properly,  he  will  also  know  how  to  interpret  it 
correctly.  But  as  I  hear  that  some  things  have  been  in- 
troduced into  this  discussion  which  have  not  often  been 
heard,  I  will  now  do  the  questioning  for  a  while,  since 
I  have  answered  more  than  I  have  asked.  And  first  I 


wish  to  ask  whether  this  speech  included  anything  that 
you  already  knew. 

Son.  There  were  a  few  things  but  not  many.  I  have 
heard  it  quoted  from  Lucifer's  words  that  he  intended 
to  set  his  throne  as  high  as  that  of  God;  but  the  answer 
that  God  gave  to  this  I  had  never  heard  interpreted  be- 
fore, but  now  you  have  explained  it. 

Father.  Let  me  ask  again :  who  do  you  suppose  it  was 
that,  standing  by,  heard  Lucifer's  boastful  and  treacher- 
ous words  and  quoted  them  afterwards  ? 

Son.  I  have  never  heard  his  name  spoken  and  I  am 
not  sure  that  they  were  told  by  any  one  who  heard  them 
at  the  beginning. 

Father.    But  this  you  shall  know  of  a  surety,  that  if 
Lucifer's  words  have  been  quoted  by  one  who  heard 
them  in  the  beginning,  he  surely  must  have  heard  those 
replies  of  God  also,  which  I  have  just  given;  and  he 
could  have  reported  both  speeches,  had  he  wished,  since 
he  heard  either  both  or  neither.  But  if  he  reported  Luci- 
fer's treacherous  boasting  as  he  divined  it,  he  surely 
could  have  thought  out  God's  truthful  statement  of  his 
vengeance  in  the  same  way;  for  either  both  or  neither 
would  be  true.  For  at  the  very  moment  when  Lucifer 
/*  transgressed,  whether  in  thought  or  in  words,  God  had 
[     already  purposed  all  the  vengeance  that  was  to  befall 
O  him  from  the  first  hour  to  the  last.  So  great  and  all- 
)  sufficient  are  God's  thoughts  and  wisdom,  that  the  vision 
/  of  the  divine  foresight  sees  in  the  twinkling  of  an  eye  all 
I   the  events  that  shall  come  to  pass  from  the  first  hour 
to  the  very  last.  But  He  withholds  in  divine  patience 
all  the  things  that  He  intends  shall  come  to  pass,  until 


suitable  times  appear;  and  He  will  let  everything  happen 
as  He  has  purposed  it  heretofore.  Now  if  God  should 
have  endowed  any  one  with  such  great  insight  and  wis- 
dom that  he  could  know  all  the  thoughts  of  God  and 
should  report  them  as  if  God  had  disclosed  them  in 
word  or  speech,  he  would  by  no  means  be  telling  false- 
hoods; for  all  that  God  has  purposed  has  been  told  him 
in  his  thoughts,  whether  his  lips  have  spoken  about 
them  or  not.  The  apostle  Paul  tells  us  that  God  has 
given  men  his  Holy  Spirit  with  a  definite  office  and  ac- 
tivity: some  receive  a  spirit  of  prophecy,  some  a  spirit 
of  knowledge  and  wisdom,  some  a  spirit  of  eloquence, 
some  a  spirit  of  understanding,  and  some  a  spirit  of 
skill;  *  some  have  these  gifts  in  large  measure,  others 
in  less;  some  enjoy  one  of  these  gifts,  others  two,  still 
others  three,  while  some  have  all,  each  one  as  God  wills 
to  endow  him. 

But  those  who,  like  King  David,  have  received  both 
the  spirit  of  understanding  and  of  eloquence,  have  ven- 
tured to  compose  speeches  and  write  books  in  order  that 
the  speeches  shall  not  perish.  In  some  places  David  has 
told  of  God's  purposes,  in  other  places  of  His  deeds, 
and  in  still  other  places  he  has  reported  His  words;  and 
those  who  in  times  past  have  written  glosses  to  the 
psalms  which  David  composed  have  had  more  to  say 
about  what  was  in  David's  mind  than  about  the  words 
that  he  wrote.  For  to  every  word  they  have  added  long 
comments  of  what  David  had  in  thought  when  he  spoke 
this  word;  and  in  these  comments  they  point  out  the 
meaning  which  he  had  in  his  thoughts  at  every  word 

*  I  Corinthians,  xii,  4-10. 


that  he  wrote  in  the  Psalter.  In  like  manner  they  have 
proceeded,  who  have  interpreted  the  words  of  the  Evan- 
gelists, and  they  have  brought  out  much  that  the  Evan- 
gelists have  left  unsaid.  Thus  they  have  shown  that 
their  comments  are  on  the  words  of  thought  which  the 
lips  had  left  unspoken.  And  if  one  has  received  the 
God-given  spirit  of  a  perfect  understanding,  he  has  a 
gift  of  such  a  nature  that,  when  he  hears  a  few  spoken 
words,  he  perceives  many  words  of  thought.  But  David 
did  not  himself  gloss  the  Psalter  for  the  reason  that  he 
wished  to  leave  to  others  the  task  of  expressing  all  those 
thoughts  which  came  up  in  his  mind,  while  he  continued 
writing  the  Psalms  as  originally  planned.  Thus  all  do 
who  have  a  speech  on  the  tongue  which  ought  to  be  in- 
terpreted: they  proceed  with  the  discourse  as  planned 
and  begun,  and  leave  to  others  the  task  of  expressing 
in  words  what  is  in  their  thoughts.  Still,  you  should 
know  that  no  one  has  glossed  the  sayings  of  David  who 
sat  by  him,  while  he  was  composing  the  Psalter,  and 
asked  what  was  in  his  mind  at  the  time.  And  from  this 
you  will  perceive  that  it  is  the  grace  of  the  spirit  of  in- 
sight which  guides  such  men  to  examine  the  foundations 
of  the  sermons  that  they  hear.  Next  they  investigate 
how  widely  the  roots  ramify  which  lie  beneath  the 
speech;  they  consider  carefully  how  many  limbs  grow 
out  of  it;  and  finally  they  make  a  count  of  the  branches 
that  sprout  from  each  limb.  They  also  note  precisely 
what  bough  they  take  for  themselves,  that  they  may  be 
able  to  trace  it  correctly  back  to  the  roots  from  which  it 
originally  grew.  Now  if  you  understand  this  thoroughly 
and  if  you  investigate  with  care  and  precision  every- 


thing  that  you  hear  told,  you  will  not  fall  into  error,  no 
matter  whether  the  comments  that  you  hear  be  right 
or  wrong,  if  God  has  given  you  the  spirit  that  leads  to  a 
right  understanding.  For  every  man  who  is  gifted  with 
proper  insight  and  gets  into  the  right  path  at  the  be- 
ginning will  be  able  to  find  the  highways  of  reason  and 
to  determine  what  expressions  are  suitable  and  will  best 
fit  the  circumstances.  Now  gather  from  .these  things 
whatever  you  can  that  may  give  insight;  but  it  does  not 
seem  necessary  to  discuss  them  further. 





Son.  God  reward  you,  sire,  for  being  so  patient  in 
answering  all  the  questions  that  I  am  asking.  I  find, 
however,  that  you  think  my  queries  wander  about  in 
a  childish  way,  but  as  I  cannot  keep  to  the  subject  of 
the  conversation  that  we  have  begun,  my  questions  will 
come  down  here  and  there,  as  one  might  expect  of  youth- 
ful ignorance.  Still,  it  seems  that  it  is  better  to  have 
asked  than  not  about  the  matter  that  I  brought  up  last, 
namely,  how  one  is  to  determine  whether  the  glosses 
are  correct  or  not.  Now  I  understand  perfectly  your 
statement  that  a  man  does  not  tell  a  lie  about  God,  if 
he  tells  God's  purposes  as  if  they  were  His  own  words; 
for  whatever  God  has  determined  in  His  own  soul,  He 
has  already  spoken  to  Himself  in  His  thoughts,  whether 
He  has  uttered  them  with  His  lips  or  not;  wherefore 


those  things  may  be  interpreted  as  if  spoken,  because  in 
His  mind  He  has  spoken  all  that  to  Himself.  This,  too, 
is  clear  to  me,  that,  although  no  one  is  able  to  divine 
what  God  had  in  mind  at  the  beginning,  He  has  Himself 
revealed  it  in  letting  those  things  come  to  pass  which 
He  had  thought  and  purposed;  for  it  seems  very  evident 
that  all  those  things  which  God  has  allowed  to  occur, 
He  had  thought  upon  and  wisely  planned  in  his  own 
mind,  before  they  came  to  pass.  It  is  also  quite  clear 
to  me  that  those  who  have  added  explanatory  glosses 
to  the  writings  of  David,  or  other  men  who  have  written 
sermons  and  set  them  in  books,  have  developed  their 
interpretations  by  studying  out  what  fundamental 
thought  or  purpose  had  since  the  beginning  lain  under- 
neath the  words.  Afterwards  they  wisely  considered 
this,  too,  with  what  truth  probability  might  be  able  to 
account  for  every  branch  and  twig  of  that  discourse, 
so  that  the  contents  might  be  revealed.  Now  since  these 
things  begin  to  look  somewhat  clearer  to  me,  it  may  be 
that  I  shall  continue  to  reflect  upon  them,  if  God  gives 
me  the  necessary  insight.  But  since  I  realize  that  you 
feel  it  would  be  a  large  and  tedious  task  both  to  con- 
tinue the  discourse  already  begun  and  to  make  suitable 
comments,  I  will  now  ask  you  to  return  to  the  subject 
before  us  and  to  continue  setting  forth  the  judgment 
of  God,  giving  cases  in  which  He  allowed  the  sentence 
to  be  carried  out  with  severity  according  to  the  verdict 
of  Justice  and  Truth,  and  others  in  which  He  showed 
greater  leniency. 

Father.  The  following  instances  occurred  long  after  the 
fall  but  had  a  similar  outcome.  Pharaoh,  the  king  of 


Egypt,  suffered  a  merciless  doom  by  the  judgment  of 
Truth,  and  Justice.*  Dathan  and  Abiram  were  justly 
doomed  and  destroyed.!  When  Joshua  led  the  people 
of  Israel  into  the  land  that  God  had  promised  them 
God  ordered  him  to  punish  the  people  who  dwelt  in  the 
city  called  Jericho  with  such  severity  that  whatever 
was  living  should  perish. J  Long  after  that,  when  King 
Saul  led  an  invasion  into  Amalek,  God  commanded  him 
to  slay  everything  that  was  living;  but  Saul  incurred 
the  anger  of  God  because  he  did  not  carry  out  what  was 
commanded.!  The  case  of  Judas,  one  of  the  apostles  of 
God,  is  among  the  examples  that  belong  to  a  much  later 
date:  for  Truth  and  Justice  condemned  him  without 
mercy  for  dastardly  treachery  toward  his  Lord.  There 
are  many  similar  cases,  though  we  have  given  these 
only;  and,  inasmuch  as  our  speech  would  get  too  long, 
we  cannot  include  in  a  single  discourse  all  the  examples 
that  we  know  resemble  these.  But  when  God  decreed 
all  these  punishments  which  we  have  now  recounted, 
the  sisters  were  all  on  the  judgment  seat  with  Him, 
Truth  and  Justice,  Mercy  and  Peace,  and  they  all  agreed 
with  Him  and  kissed  and  embraced  each  other. 


Son.  It  is  quite  evident  that  in  the  cases  which  you 
have  now  recounted,  Truth  and  Justice  had  a  larger 
part  in  the  verdict  than  Peace  and  Mercy.  But  no  one 
can  doubt  that  the  sisters  were  all  agreed  in  these  de- 

*  Exodus,  xiv.         f  Numbers,  xvi.  J  Joshua,  vi.  §  /  Samuel,  xv. 

280  .     THE  KING'S  MIRROR 

cisions,  for  we  may  be  sure  that  God  never  passes  ta 
merciless  judgment.  One  will  consequently  need  to  pon- 
der these  things  with  careful  attention  and  close  think- 
ing; for  the  judgments  of  God  are  largely  concealed  from 
men.  Therefore  I  wish  to  ask  you  to  point  out  those 
cases  in  which  Mercy  and  Peace  have  chiefly  dictated 
the  verdict,  so  that  I  may  get  insight  into  dooms  of 
both  kinds,  seeing  that  examples  of  both  are  to  be  found. 
Father.  There  are  so  many  cases  of  either  class,  that 
we  cannot  include  all  the  verdicts  in  one  discussion; 
still,  we  can  point  out  a  few  of  them,  in  order  that  both 
your  questions  may  be  answered.  The  following  are 
events  which  occurred  long  ago,  when  Aaron  and  Ur, 
the  bishops,*  committed  a  great  sin  against  God  in  that 
they  gave  His  people  two  calves  made  of  molten  gold, 
through  which  the  entire  nation  was  led  astray  from 
the  faith;  for  the  people  called  these  calves  the  gods  of 
Israel  and  brought  sacrifices  to  them  as  to  God.  But 
when  Moses  came  down  to  the  people  (he  had  been  up 
on  the  mountain  where  he  had  spoken  to  God  Himself)  , 
the  bishops  ran  to  meet  him,  deeply  repenting  their 

and,  falling  at  Moses'  feet,  they  begged  him  to  inter- 
cede for  them  with  God,  lest  He  be  angered  with  them 
according  to  their  deserts.  But  when  God  saw  how 
deeply  the  bishops  repented,  He  heard  Moses'  prayer, 
and  the  bishops  retained  the  dignities  which  they  had 
before,  and  they  did  penance  for  their  sin.  The  instance 

*  Exodus,  xxxii.  No  high  priest  by  the  name  of  Ur  is  mentioned  in  this  con- 
nection; but  Hur,  the  son  of  Caleb,  is  associated  with  Aaron  on  two  earlier 
occasions.  See  ibid.,  xvii,  10;  xxiv,  14.  There  was  a  legend  that  Ur  refused  to 
make  the  golden  calf  and  that  the  people  spitting  into  his  face  suffocated  him 
with  the  spittle.  Petrus  Comestor,  Historia  Scholastica,  c.  73:  Migne,  Patro- 
logia  Latina,  CXCVIII,  1189. 

THE  KING'S  MIRROR        •  281 

that  I  have  now  related  is  one  of  those  in  which  the 
greater  share  in  the  decision  was  assigned  to  Peace  and 
Mercy,  though  Truth  and  Justice  also  consented  to  the 
doom;  for  the  bishops  would  have  suffered  death  for 
this  offence,  if  Mercy  had  not  been  more  lenient  with 
them  than  they  deserved.  The  following  event  is  like 
this  but  happened  much  later :  King  David  fell  into  this 
great  sin,  that  he  committed  adultery  with  Uriah's  wife 
and  afterwards  brought  about  the  death  of  Uriah  him- 
self. After  Uriah's  death  David  took  his  wife  and  had 
her  for  his  own,  and  surely  he  deserved  death  for  these 
sins.  But  he  repented  his  misdeeds  so  deeply  before  God 
and  begged  forgiveness  so  humbly  for  the  sins  con- 
fessed, that  God  heard  his  prayer  and  did  not  take 
away  his  kingship,  but  even  confirmed  him  in  it,  though 
he  had  committed  these  crimes.* 

The  following  events  occurred  much  later  at  the  time 
when  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ  was  on  earth  among  men. 
The  bishops  of  the  Jews  and  all  their  other  learned  men 
became  very  hostile  toward  him  and  were  constantly 
striving  to  find  something  for  which  they  might  re- 
proach him.  So  they  took  a  woman  who  had  openly 
committed  adultery  and  was  worthy  of  death  according 
to  the  law  of  Moses;  this  woman  they  brought  before 
Jesus  and  told  him  of  her  crimes.  They  also  said  that 
the  law  condemned  her  to  die  and  asked  what  sentence 
he  would  pass  in  this  case.  Jesus  replied  that  he  who 
had  never  committed  a  sin  should  cast  the  first  stone 
upon  her.  Then  they  turned  away  quickly,  not  daring 
to  question  him  further,  for  they  all  knew  themselves 

*  II  Samuel,  xii. 


to  have  sinned.  But  Jesus  said  to  the  woman:  "  Woman, 
since  none  of  those  who  accused  thee  has  passed  judg- 
ment in  thy  case,  neither  will  I  condemn  thee  to  die; 
go  in  peace,  but  henceforth  beware  of  sin."  There  is  an- 
other instance  which  is  like  those  that  I  related  earlier, 
and  which  happened  in  the  night  when  Jesus  was  seized. 
His  apostle  Peter  had  boastfully  protested  that  he  would 
never  forsake  him,  though  all  others  should  leave  him, 
and  that  he  would  suffer  death  with  Jesus  before  he 
would  desert  him  like  a  coward.  But  in  the  same  night 
when  Jesus  was  seized,  Peter  denied  three  times  that 
he  had  been  with  him,  and  the  third  time  he  confirmed 
the  statement  with  an  oath  that  he  had  not  been  Jesus' 
man.  Then  he  went  away  out  of  the  hall  where  Jesus 
was  held  and  immediately  began  to  repent  his  sin  and 
all  his  words  and  wept  bitterly.  Nevertheless,  after 
Jesus  had  risen,  Peter's  sins  were  forgiven,  and  he  re- 
tained all  the  honors  that  had  been  promised  him  before. 
There  is  still  another  event  which  came  to  pass  a  few 
days  later  when  our  Lord  was  crucified.  Two  thieves 
were  crucified  with  him,  one  on  either  side;  both  had 
been  guilty  of  the  same  crimes,  murder  and  robbery. 
But  while  they  hung  on  the  cross,  one  of  them  took 
thought  to  repent  and  implored  mercy  of  Jesus,  though 
he,  too,  like  the  thieves,  hung  on  a  cross.  His  sins  were 
pardoned  and  he  was  given  sure  promise  of  paradise  on 
that  very  day;  but  his  companion  was  condemned  ac- 
cording to  his  deeds. 




Son.  If  earthly  kings  and  other  chiefs,  who  are  ap- 
pointed to  act  as  judges,  are  to  adapt  their  decisions 
to  the  examples  that  you  have  now  given,  they  must 
find  it  very  important  to  learn  precisely  what  each  suit 
is  based  upon;  for  in  many  of  these  instances,  it  looks 
as  if  the  cases  were  somewhat  alike  in  appearance.  Still, 
all  the  decisions  in  the  earlier  examples  led  to  severe 
punishments,  while  in  the  later  ones  they  all  led  to 
mercy  and  forgiveness.  Therefore  I  now  wish  to  ask  you 
why  Pharaoh,  Dathan,  and  Abiram,  the  people  who 
dwelt  in  Jericho,  and  those  of  Amalek,  who  were  pun- 
ished by  King  Saul,  were  all  destroyed  without  mercy. 

Father.  These  things  were  all  done  at  the  command 
of  Justice  and  Truth,  though  Peace  and  Mercy  con- 
sented. For  Moses  daily  performed  many  miracles  be- 
fore King  Pharaoh  and  commanded  him  to  release  God's 
people;  and  he  might  have  released  them,  had  he  wished, 
without  suffering  any  injury  thereby.  He  made  con- 
stant promises  that  it  should  be  done,  but  he  never 
kept  either  word  or  promise.  Now  it  was  right  that  he 
should  perish  in  his  stubborn  wickedness  and  evil-doing, 
since  he  would  accept  neither  mercy  nor  pardon,  though 
he  had  the  opportunity.  Dathan  and  Abiram,  when 
Moses  told  them  that  they  had  done  evil,  became  angry 
and  refused  to  repent;  and  they  perished  without  mercy 
because  they  sought  no  mercy.  Those  who  dwelt  in 
Jericho  and  Amalek  had  heard  for  many  days  that  they 



had  done  evil  both  to  God's  people  and  against  His  will 
but  they  offered  no  atonement^  on  the  contrary,  they 
proposed  to  take  up  arms  in  their  defense,  wherefore 
they  were  overcome  by  a  merciless  revenge.  But  those 
whom  I  pointed  out  to  you  in  the  later  accounts, 
Aaron,  Ur,  David,  and  the  others  who  were  mentioned 
in  those  examples,  did  not  conceal  their  wickedness, 
but  confessed  their  misdeeds  as  they  were;  hoping  for 
pardon,  they  begged  mercy  and  clemency,  and  offered 
to  atone,  as  He  should  determine,  Who,  they  knew,  had 
the  decision  in  His  power.  And  they  promised  that 
nevermore  would  they  fall  into  such  guilt,  if  they  might 
become  fully  reconciled. 


Son.  I  now  wish  to  ask  you  why  such  a  great  dis- 
tinction was  made  in  the  cases  of  Peter  and  Judas, 
though  their  offences  appear  similar.  Judas  returned 
the  money  that  he  had  received  and  repented  his  evil 
deed;  he  confessed  that  he  had  sold  his  innocent  Lord, 
and  threw  away  the  silver,  saying  that  he  would  not 
keep  what  had  come  to  him  so  wrongfully.  Now  he  was 
destroyed,  though  he  repented;  while  Peter  was  forgiven 
at  once,  because  he  repented. 

Father.  Judas  fell  in  the  beginning  into  sin  through 
avarice  and  love  of  wealth  and  took  a  bribe  to  betray 
his  Lord.  His  repentance  was  such  that  he  could  not 
hope  for  pardon,  and  he  asked  for  no  mercy  but  pun- 
ished himself  with  a  sudden  death.  But  Peter  wept 


bitterly  in  his  repenjance^a^d,  hoping  for  mercy,  im- 
plored forgivenesg^Furthermore^Judas  had  the  greater 
guilt,  for  he  sold  his  Lord;  and  though  he  repented,  he 
craved  no  pardon;  and  he  did  not  abide  the  judgment 
of  God,  but  condemned  himself  forthwith.  But  Peter 
denied  his  Lord  through  sudden  fear  and  repented  im- 
mediately in  great  sorrow;  he  submitted  to  the  judg- 
ment of  God  and  abided  it,  and  did  not  condemn  him- 
self as  Judas  did.  There  was  a  similar  outcome  in  the 
case  of  the  crucified  thieves.  Though  both  acknowledged 
the  sins  that  they  had  committed,  one  prayed  for  mercy 
and  pardon,  while  the  other  asked  no  mercy  but  spoke 
in  contempt  and  derision  rather  than  in  prayer  or  seri- 
ous thought.  Therefore  these  whom  we  have  now  named 
were  saved  through  the  merciful  judgments  of  Mercy 
and  Peace,  though  Truth  and  Justice  agreed  to  the 



Son.  I  am  beginning  to  see  these  things  more  clearly 
now  and  to  understand  why  it  is  that  the  larger  share 
in  a  verdict  is  sometimes  assigned  to  Justice  and  Truth 
and  at  other  times  to  Peace  and  Mercy.  And  now  I  want 
to  ask  you  to  discuss  those  cases  which  you  mentioned 
earlier  in  which  God  modified  the  sentence  agreed  upon, 
and  to  state  the  causes  that  led  to  this. 

Father.  To  this  class  belong  certain  events  which 
occurred  a  long  time  ago  in  the  days  when  Moses  was 
upon  the  mountain  called  Sinai.  In  those  days  the  great 


mass  of  the  people  sinned  grievously  and  even  fell  into 
whoredom,  cohabiting  with  women  of  the  heathen  race. 
But  so  strictly  had  God  forbidden  this,  that  everyone 
who  fell  into  that  sin  was  held  worthy  of  death.  Then 
God  said  to  Moses:  "Now  shalt  thou  cease  speaking 
with  Me  that  My  wrath  may  have  time  to  wax  hot 
against  this  people  which  I  gave  into  thy  charge.  For 
they  have  fallen  into  such  grievous  sins  against  My 
commandments  that  I  intend  to  consume  them  all  in 
My  fierce  wrath;  and  I  will  give  thee  another  people, 
far  better  and  stronger  and  more  numerous  than  this 
one."  At  this  point  it  would  almost  seem  as  if  a  definite 
sentence  had  been  passed  in  the  case  of  this  nation. 
Moses,  however,  asked  permission  to  intercede  briefly 
in  behalf  of  the  people  of  Israel  and,  this  being  granted, 
he  spoke  these  words.  "  I  pray  Thee,  O  Lord,  to  turn 
from  Thy  wrath  and  do  not  destroy  Thy  people,  though 
they  have  done  ill.  Let  not  the  Egyptians  have  this  to 
say,  that  Thou  didst  lead  Thy  people  out  of  Egypt  and 
out  of  their  dominion  to  consume  them  in  the  moun- 
tains and  the  desert;  or  that  Thou  wert  unable  to  lead 
Thy  people  into  the  land  which  Thou  hadst  promised 
them  from  the  beginning.  Remember,  O  Lord,  Thy  serv- 
ants Abraham  and  Isaac  and  Jacob,  and  do  not  destroy 
the  generations  that  have  sprung  from  Israel's  kin 
which  Thou  hast  Thyself  promised  to  multiply  upon 
earth  and  to  lead  securely  into  the  land  that  is  now 
controlled  by  Thine  enemies."  *  God  heard  the  prayer 
of  Moses;  His  wrath  was  appeased,  and  He  did  not  slay 
the  people  as  He  had  threatened;  but  He  gave  their 

*  Exodus,  xxxii,  7-14. 


punishment  into  the  hands  of  Moses,  instructing  him 
that  they  must  not  wholly  escape  chastisement,  though 
it  should  not  be  so  severe  as  God  had  threatened  earlier. 
Moses  returned  hastily  to  the  camp  and  coming  upon 
the  people  in  a  tempestuous  spirit  and  in  fierce  wrath, 
he  slew  many  thousand  men  in  that  day,  and  in  this 
way  pacified  the  wrath  of  GodLNow  this  example  shows 
how  God  lessened  a  penalty  imposed,\in  that  He  ap- 

Moses'  prayer.  An^  it, 

that  Tipi|W  nf  thp  <jig^rff|  Truth  or  Jiifltfoft 

in  her  rights  fry  t.^js  jnrlgm^nt,  inqgnnnnli  as  Moses  slew 
a  great  host  to  pacify  the  wrath  of  God. 

Mercy  also  had  t.frqir  rigMifij  .  flPP'^g  ftinf  lrtnn 

This  is  another  instance  that/shows  how  God  has 
modified  a  judgment  already  passed.]  He  sent  Jonah 
the  prophet  to  Niniveh  with  orders  to  tell  the  king  and 
all  the  people  of  the  city  that  within  thirty  days  Nini- 
veh should  be  destroyed  with  all  that  was  therein. 
Jonah  did  as  God  commanded  and  told  these  things  as 
true  tidings.  But  when  the  king  understood  that  the 
people  were  of  a  truth  in  danger  of  divine  wrath  (for  the 
nation  was  full  of  whoredoms  and  wickedness  of  every 
form)  he  descendedlrom  his  throne,  laid  aside  his  royal 
robes,  and  did  penance  and  fasted;  and  he  bade  all 
men  in  the  city  do  likewise,  both  young  and  old.  And 
when  God  saw  that  they  repented  of  their  wickedness 
with  sorrow  and  penance  in  many  forms,  He  extended 
mercy  and  destroyed  neither  the  city  nor  the  people 
within  it.* 

*  Jonah,  iii. 


Here  is  still  another  instance  that  points  to  the  same 
result.  Hezekiah  was  the  name  of  a  good  king  in  the 
land  of  Israel;  he  fell  ill  and  meditated  deeply  about 
his  case,  whether  God  intended  to  bring  him  through 
this  illness  or  to  let  him  die.  Then  God  sent  Isaiah  His 
prophet  to  him;  and  God  said  to  the  prophet  that  Heze- 
kiah should  die  of  this  malady.  Isaiah  went  to  the  king 
and  said  to  him:  "  Take  good  heed  and  set  your  house 
in  order  and  all  your  affairs,  for  God  has  said  that  you 
shall  die  of  this  illness  and  not  live."  As  soon  as  Isaiah 
had  spoken  these  words  to  the  king,  he  departed;  but 
the  king  turned  his  face  to  the  wall  and  prayed  for  de- 
liverance in  these  words:  "Remember,  O  Lord,  how 
steadfast  I  have  been  in  Thy  service,  for  I  have  always 
opposed  Thine  enemies,  and  this  people  that  Thou  hast 
given  into  my  keeping  have  I  turned  from  much  wicked- 
ness which  many  of  them  practiced  before  I  came  to  the 
kingship.  And  there  are  three  reasons  why  I  am  loath 
to  die  so  suddenly  now  of  this  illness.  The  first,  which 
I  fear  the  most,  is  that  I  may  not  have  kept  Thy  com- 
mandments fully,  and  if  I  die  in  a  state  of  sin  I  may 
look  for  Thy  vengeance  in  my  death.  The  second  is  that 
I  have  not  yet  turned  all  Thy  people  wholly  away  from 
their  evil  ways;  and  I  fear,  if  I  die  suddenly  now,  that 
they  will  soon  return  to  their  old  abominations.  The 
third,  which  I  fear  much,  is  the  victory  of  Thine  ene- 
mies over  Thy  people,  seeing  that  my  son  is  a  child;  and 
his  power  to  defend  the  people  against  Thine  enemies 
may  prove  less  than  is  required.  But  if  Thou  wilt  hear 
my  prayer,  O  Lord,  and  add  a  few  days  to  my  life,  all 
these  things  may  be  brought  into  a  better  state  than 


they  are  at  present."  God  heard  Hezekiah's  prayer  and 
said  to  Isaiah  the  prophet:  "Return  quickly  to  King 
Hezekiah  and  tell  him  different  tidings  now  from  what 
thou  toldest  before;  for  I  have  heard  his  prayer,  and  I 
will  add  unto  the  days  of  his  life  fifteen  years  beyond 
what  I  had  intended  for  him,  and  I  will  deliver  all  his 
realm  from  the  attack  of  his  adversaries."  * 

Here  is  another  instance  which  belongs  to  a  much 
later  time.  In  the  days  when  Jesus  Christ  was  here  upon 
earth  among  men,  one  of  his  friends,  Lazarus  by  name, 
fell  ill  and  died  of  the  illness.  Bethany  was  the  name  of 
the  town  where  Lazarus  was  buried.  But  when  he  had 
lain  four  days  in  the  grave,  Jesus  came  to  Bethany. 
Now  it  would  seem  in  Lazarus'  case,  as  in  that  of  all 
others  who  have  departed  from  this  world,  that  an  ir- 
revocable sentence  had  been  passed,  seeing  that  he  had 
lain  four  days  a  dead  man  in  the  earth,  death  having 
even  appointed  him  a  place  in  his  kingdom.  Jesus  or- 
dered Lazarus'  grave  to  be  opened,  and  calling  him  he 
commanded  him  to  tear  himself  away  from  the  hands 
of  his  dead  companions.  Thereupon  Lazarus  rose  from 
the  dead,  and  he  lived  many  days  after  that.  There  are 
many  other  examples  of  this  kind,  but  these  are  the 
ones  which  we  have  preferred  to  bring  to  light;  and  since 
our  talk  has  been  quite  long,  it  seems  unnecessary  to 
recount  others,  though  they  are  plentiful. 

*  II  Kings,  xx;  Isaiah,  xxxviii.  The  prayer  is  imaginary. 




Son.  The  more  examples  I  hear,  the  more  evident  is 
the  truth  of  what  you  stated  earlier  in  your  remarks, 
namely  that(7t  is  very  necessary  for  kings  and  other 
rulers  who  are  in  charge  of  justice  to 

if  they  are  to  adapt  their  verdicts  to  the  examples  that 
we  have  now  heard-J 

Father.  You  should  understand  this  clearly  that, 
since  the  king  holds  his  title  from  God,  it  is  surely  his 
duty^to  suit  his  decisions  to  divine  examples^  and  the 
same  is  true  of  all  who  are  appointed  to  pass  judgment, 
both  clerks  and  laymen.  For  we  no  longer  have  oppor- 
tunity to  ask  counsel  on  any  point  from  God's  own  lips, 
as  Moses  could;  wherefore  men  should  live  according 
to  the  examples  that  were  set  in  those  days  when  it  was 
possible  to  inquire  of  God  Himself  what  His  will  was 
on  any  matter.  Therefore,  a  king  ought  to  jkeep  j:hese 
examples  frequently  upon  his  lips  and  before  his  eyes, 
and  such  other  examples,  too,  as  may  give  insight  for 
his  own  decisions.  (The  most  favorable  time  for  such 
\meditatiofl[is  at  night  or  in  the  early  morning  when  he 
is  sated  with  sleeplBut  when  the  hour  to  rise  comes  and 
it  is  time  for  the  king  to  hear  the  hours,  it  is  his  duty 
to^go  to  church  and  listen  attentively  to  the  mass~3bid 
to  join  in  the  prayers  and  in  chanting  the  psalms  if  he 
knows  them.  Like  every  other  Christian  man  who  is  at 
prayers,  the  king  ought  to  attend  with  as  much  devotion 
as  if  he  stood  in  the  presence  of  God  and  spoke  to  God 
Himself.  He  should  call  to  mind  the  words  that  David 


uttered  when  he  spoke  in  this  wise:  "  I  shall  ever  see 
the  Lord  before  my  face,  for  He  is  always  at  my  right 
hand."  * 

A  king  should  begin  his  prayer  by  showing  God  that 
he  holds  the  true  faith.  Next  he  should  make  clear  that 
he  gives  thought  to  his  earthly  dominion  and  the  divine 
power  of  God.  Thereupon  he  must  confess  his  sins  and 
misdeeds  to  God,  jnaking  clear  to  Him  that  he  does  not 
consider  himself  as  having  come  without  guilt  or  as  if 
defending  his  cause^Next  he  must  beg  mercy  and  for- 
giveness for  the  transgressions  that  he  has  confessed. 
He  must  also  show  God  humbly  that  he  regardsjiimself 
as  coming  before  His  knees  as  a  thrall  or  a  servant^ 
though  God  has  exalted  him  to  power  among  men. J5e 
must  not  fail  to  remember  others  besides  himself  in 
prayer:  his  queen,  if  he  has  one,  who  is  appointed  to 
rule  and  defend  the  land  with  him;  his  Kjphnpq  and  alJL 
Other  learned^  men  who  are  to  aid  |hin^  in  maintain- 
ing  Christianity,  and,  therefore,  owe  the  duty  to  offer 
prayers  for  him  and  for  all  the  other  people  of  the  king- 
dom .(He  ought  also  to  remember  all  his  other  lords  and  ? 
knights  in  his  prayer  and  all  the  warriors  who  assist  7" 

him  in   the  gnvprnmpnf  Jjjkgjgjsp,   hp  must   rpmpmhprV 

the  husbandmen,  the  householders,  and  all  his  other 
subjects  who  maintain  his  kingdonL-bai-Jabor  or  olher 
gainful  gffnrt.  TTp  should,  therefore,  remember  all,  men 
and  women,  for  it  is  their  duty  to  offer  up  holy  prayers 
for  him  every  day.  And,  if  he  likes,  he  may  use  daily 
the  following  prayer,  which  is  in  the  form  that  I  have 

*  Probably  from  Psalms,  xvi,  8  (Vulgate,  xv,  8) :  "  I  have  set  the  Lord  always 
before  me,  because  He  is  at  my  right  hand.  ..." 


given,  but  he  must  pray  as  devoutly  as  if  he  were  speak- 
ing to  God  Himself;  and  these  are  the  words  of  the 

"  O  Thou  most  merciful  God,  eternal  Father!  O  Thou 
most  honored  Conqueror,  Jesus  Christ,  the  only  be- 
gotten Son  of  God!  O  Thou  most  gentle  Comforter,  Holy 
Spirit!  O  Thou  perpetual  fount  of  wisdom  and  complete 
and  unshaken  faith,  Holy  Trinity!  O  Thou  indivisible 
Unity,  one  omnipotent,  unchangeable  God:  Thou  Who 
sittest  above  the  highest  summits  of  heaven  and  lookest 
into  the  hidden  depths  below!  For  no  creature  can 
escape  Thy  dominion,  though  it  should  wish  to  flee  from 
Thy  wrath.  Even  though  I  should  mount  to  heaven, 
Thou  art  there  before  me;  and  though  I  crawl  down  into 
the  lowest  hiding  places  of  hell,  Thy  spiritual  dominion 
is  there;  and  though  I  were  to  fly  upon  the  wings  of 
the  winds  and  hide  beyond  the  uttermost  boundaries  of 
the  ocean  solitudes,  even  there  Thy  right  hand  would 
seize  me  and  lead  me  back  into  Thy  control.  For  Thy 
mind  has  numbered  the  sands  driven  by  the  winds  and 
by  the  power  of  the  ocean  about  all  the  earth,  and  Thine 
eye  knows  all  the  drops  of  the  dewy  rain.  Therefore,  I 
implore  Thee,  O  my  Lord,  do  not  enter  into  the  seat  of 
judgment  with  me,  Thy  servant,  to  search  out  my  right- 
eousness; and  do  not  number  the  multitude  of  my  sins, 
but  turn  Thy  face  away  from  mine  iniquities  and  cleanse 
me  from  my  secret  faults  and  wash  away  all  my  guilt. 
For  my  sins  are  great  and  lie  heavy  upon  my  head;  they 
are  so  many  that  they  seem  numberless  to  me  in  their 
multitude,  —  sins  that  I  have  committed  in  vain  think- 
ing, in  foolish  words,  in  neglecting  Thy  commandments 


and  forgetting  Thy  holy  law  in  every  way,  in  indiscreet 
testimony  and  thoughtless  oaths,  in  judging  unjustly 
between  men,  in  excessive  avarice,  and  in  all  manner 
of  useless  and  evil  works.  I  acknowledge  and  confess  to 
Thee,  O  Lord,  calling  all  Thy  saints  to  witness,  that  I 
am  so  guilty  of  misdeeds  and  evil  works,  that  I  am  al- 
ready condemned  by  the  multitude  of  my  transgressions, 
unless  I  may  share  in  the  benefits  of  the  exceeding  abun- 
dance of  Thy  mercy  and  of  the  good  and  meritorious 
intercessions  of  my  Lady,  the  holy  Virgin  Mary,  and  of 
all  the  saints  in  whom  Thou  hast  been  well  pleased  since 
the  world  began.  For  the  misdeeds  and  all  the  iniquity 
that  I  have  committed  from  my  childhood  to  this  day 
are  uncovered  and  revealed  unto  Thee,  even  though  I 
might  wish  to  conceal  and  not  confess  them;  for  short- 
sighted frailty  was  not  ashamed  to  pursue  its  evil  de- 
sires before  Thy  face.  But,  O  Lord,  inasmuch  as  Thou 
dost  not  delight  in  them  who  are  destroyed  in  sin,  but 
wouldst  rather  that  they  should  live  and  be  led  aright, 
and  because  Thou  knowest  that  man  is  frail  and  with- 
out strength  like  the  dust  of  the  earth  or  the  crumbling 
leaf,  unless  Thou  strengthen  him  with  the  power  of  Thy 
mercy,  therefore,  I  implore  Thee,  do  not  punish  me 
with  the  swift  judgment  of  Thy  wrath;  but  let  Thy 
divine  patience  give  me  time  and  will  to  repent  and 
abilitv^to  do  penance.  Take  away  from  me,  O  Lord, 
envy  and  pride,  despair  and  stubbornness,  injustice  and( 
violence,  and  detestable  gluttony;  cleanse  me  from  the 
seven  cardinal  sins  and  the  cursed  vices  which  spring 
from  them.  Give  me,  O  Lord,  love  and  constant  hope, 
true  faith  and  humility,  wisdom  and  justice,  and  ample 


strength  to  do  Thy  will  at  all  times.  Give  me  the  seven 
cardinal  gifts  of  the  Holy  Spirit  with  all  the  blessed 
fruitage  that  grows  out  of  these;  for  I  am  Thy  handi- 
work, created  in  Thine  image,  Thy  thrall  begotten  in 
sin  by  Thy  servant,  the  son  of  Thy  handmaiden.  But 
mercy  has  appointed  me  to  Thine  office  and  has 

*!**"'  <  exalted  me,  though  unworthy,  to  the  royal  dignity  and 
/  the  sacred  chieftainship;  and  Thou  hast  appointed  me 
to  judge  and  to  govern  Thy  holy  people.  Therefore,  I 
pray  Thee,£give  more  heed  to  the  needs  of  Thy  holy 
people,  which  Thou  hast  appointed  me  to  rule  over,  than 
to  my  merits;  put  give  me  the  right  understanding,  self- 
control  and  sense  of  justice,  eloquence,  purpose,  and 
good  intentions,  so  that  I  may  be  able  to  judge  and  de- 
termine the  causes  of  rich  and  poor  in  such  a  way  that 
Thou  wilt  be  pleased,  while  they  rejoice  that  justice  is 
done  among  them.  And  I  pray  Thee,  O  Lord  !  to  pour 
out  Thy  spirit  of  upright  understanding  upon  all  my 
councillors  and  helpers  who  assist  me  in  maintaining 
l>  the  government.  To  my  queen,  whom  Thou  hast  joined 
to  me  with  the  bonds  of  marriage,  and  above  all  to  the 
hallowed  stewards  and  servants  of  holy  church^  the 
rnnat.  fiimnent  nri^st^  |ffoe  bishop  of  Rnmftf  ami  all  our 
bishops,  abbots,  and  rulers,  to  our  priests  and  to  all  the 
learned  men  who  are  in  their  charge^-—  to  all  these,  O 
Lord,  give  a  chaste  and  upright  spirit,  so  that  they  may 
show  their  good  works  and  set  Thy  people  good  ex- 
amples and  give  them  right  instruction.  To  the  gov- 
ernors and  to  all  those  who  assist  me  in  guiding  and 
defending  the  realm,  give  rightmindedness,  abhorrence 
of  evil  ways,  and  the  appreciation  and  love  of  good 


morals.  Make  mine  enemies  truly  repentant  of  their 
evil  and  wickedness,  cause  them  to  desist  from  their 
ferocity,  and  turn  them  to  a  true  friendship.  /To  Thy 
people  and  all  the  commonalty  give  knowledge  and  a 
will  to  love  Thee,  the  true  God,  a  right  obedience  to 
their  superiors,  good  peace  and  rich  harvests,  and  se- 
curity from  enemiesjRemember.  Q  Lord,  in  Thy  holy 
,  all  thp  rarpg  nf  mankind  fnr  wh^n^  rmr  LnrH 
Thrift  Thinp  only  hpgottpn  snn,  shed  his  blood 
in  redemption^  whether  they  be  still  living  in  this  world 
or  called  home  in  holy  patience  by  Thy  commands.  To 
those,  O  Lord,  who  are  blinded  by  error  and  ignorance 
and  therefore  cannot  discern  Thy  Holy  Trinity,  send 
Thy  spirit  of  insight,  that  they  may  know  and  under- 
stand that  Thou  art  the  true  God  and  none  other;  for 
no  one  may  approach  Thee  except  Thy  holy  compassion 
draws  him  to  Thy  love.  And  be  not  wroth  with  me,  Thy 
servant,  O  Lord,  because  I  have  dared  to  speak  with 
Thee  at  this  time,  even  though  I  continue  in  prayer,  but 
incline  Thy  compassionate  ear  and  hear  and  grant  what 
I  pray  for  in  Thine  abundant  kindness.  I  pray  Thee,  O 
Lord,  never  to  give  me  into  the  hands  of  mine  enemies 
because  of  my  misdeeds,  or  to  let  me  become  their  vic- 
tim or  captive,  and  never  to  let  mine  enemies  rejoice  in 
my  misfortunes,  whether  in  body  or  in  spirit,  visible  or 
invisible;  but  if  I  do  aught  against  Thy  holy  will  and 
commandments,  take  me  in  Thy  right  hand  and  chas- 
tise me,  though  not  according  to  my  deserts  but  accord- 
ing to  the  lenient  judgment  of  Thy  mercy;  and  give  me 
abundant  power  and  resolute  strength  to  oppose  all 
antagonism  and  all  deception.  Let  me  suffer  no  greater 


temptations  than  my  weakness  can  resist;  let  me  not 

end  my  days  in  a  sudden  death;  and  do  not  call  me  out 

of  this  world  before  I  shall  have  repented  and  rightly 

atoned  for  all  my  siris;  and  when  the  strivings  of  this 

world  have  ceased,  let  me  rest  eternally  with  Thee  and 

Thy  saints.  And  from  my  heart  I  pray  Thee,  O  Lord,  to 

give  me  a  lawful  heir  begotten  of  my  loins,  whom  it  may 

please  Thee  in  Thy  mercy  to  set  after  my  time  in  the 

C  seat  of  honor  where  Thou  hast  placed  me;  End  let  my 

j  high-seat  never  pass  into  the  power  of  other  dynasties, 

7    but  only  to  such  as  shall  spring  from  me,  the  son  in- 

1    heriting  from  the  father  in  every  caseDAnd  grant,  O 

Lord,  I  pray  Thee,  that  no  branches  that  have  sprung 

from  me  shall  wither  or  decay;  and  let  them  not  follow 

after  foolish  men  into  error  and  neglect,  but  give  them 

insight  and  wisdom  to  understand  and  to  know  Thy 

sacred  law,  and  power  and  a  good  purpose  to  love  Thee 

and  Thy  commands.  For  Thou  only  art  the  true  God, 

Who  liveth  and  reigneth  forever,  world  without  end. 

Amen."  * 

Now  this  prayer  that  you  have  just  heard  is  one  which 
the  king  may  offer  up,  if  he  wishes,  with  such  other 
psalms  and  prayers  as  he  knows.  And  though  he  may 
not  always  repeat  this  prayer,  he  should;  nevertheless, 
pray  according  to  the  plan  that  is  outlined  in  this  prayer. 
And  this  I  verily  believe  to  be  his  duty  every  day,  until 
he  has  heard  the  hours  and  the  mass,  if  he  means  to 
observe  what  belongs  to  his  dignity  and  to  his  official 

*  This  prayer  is  a  translation  of  a  Latin  original  which  the  author  has  incor- 
porated and  given  in  full.  Both  the  original  and  the  author's  translation  are 
given  in  the  manuscripts. 




Son.  I  believe  you  have  now  cleared  up  for  me  what 
you  think  ought  to  be  a  king's  business,  at  night  after 
the  season  for  sleep  is  past  while  he  is  meditating  upon 
the  needs  of  his  realm  and  subjects,  and  in  the  morning 
when  he  goes  to  church  or  to  devotional  services;  and 
it  seems  to  me  that  these  occupations  are  both  useful 
and  important,  so  much  so  that  they  are  indispensable. 
Now  that  you  have  shown  me  what  he  should  be  em- 
ployed with  in  the  night  and  early  in  the  morning,  I 
wish  to  ask  you  to  continue  and  to  point  out  what  he 
should  be  occupied  with  during  the  day:  whether  it  is 
your  opinion  that  he  should  ponder  the  needs  of  his 
kingdom  while  awake  at  night  in  order  that  he  may  be 
able  to  spend  the  day  with  greater  freedom,  after  the 
custom  which  I  hear  that  kings  now  follow  in  most 
places,  either  in  riding  out  with  hawks  or  in  joining  the 
chase  with  dogs,  or  in  some  other  form  of  diversion,  as 
I  hear  that  kings  are  in  the  habit  of  doing  in  most  coun- 
tries; or  whether  you  think  that  he  should  be  otherwise 
employed,  if  he  does  as  he  ought  to  do,  and^that  kings 
seek  these  diversions  more  for  the  sake  of  recreation 
than  because  their  rank  demand  it. 

Father.  I  surely  do  believe,  with  respect  to  what  you 
have  just  asked  about,  that  kingship  was  established 
and  appointed  to  look  after  the  needs  of  the  whole  realm 
and  people  rather  than  for  sport  and  vain  amusements. 
Nevertheless,  a  king  must  be  allowed  to  seek  diversion 



now  and  then,  either  [with  hawks,  hounds,  horses,  or 
b  weapons,  so  that  his  health  and  agility  at  arms  or  in  any 
}  form  of  warfare  may  be  preserved.]  His  chief  business, 
however,  is  to  maintain  an  intelligent  government  and 
to  seek  good  solutions  for  all  the  difficult  problems  and 
demands  which  come  before  him.  And  you  shall  know 
of  a  truth  that  it  is  just  as  much  the  king's  duty  to  ob- 
serve daily  the  rules  of  the  sacred  law  and  to  preserve 
justice  inr*holy  judgments"  as  it  is  the  bishop's  duty  to 
preserve  the  order  of  the  sacred  mass  and  all  the  canon- 
ical hours. 

Son.  I  am  inquiring  so  closely  into  these  things  for 
the  reason  that  many  believe  the  royal  dignity  to  have 
been  founded  for  such  pleasure-giving  splendor  and  un- 
restrained amusement  as  kings  may  desire.  But  now  I 
see  clearly  from  your  remarks  that  a  king  ought  con- 
stantly to  labor  in  the  yoke  of  God;  wherefore  it  seems 
to  me  that  he  must  have  a  great  burden  to  support 
every  day  in  the  serious  interest  that  he  must  show  when 
the  needs  of  his  subjects  are  presented  to  him.  Therefore 
I  wish  to  ask  you  once  more  to  show  me  clearly  what 
should  be  a  king's  duty  after  the  hours  have  been  ob- 

/*  ^  Father.  It  was  the  custom  of  old  at  the  time  when  the 

fa  j^  f^:C  royal  office  was  established  and  (enjoyed  its  greatest 
/  u/<.^      )  splendor,  that,  when  a  king  no  longer  stood  in  fear  of 
-.       /    his  enemies  but  sat  in  complete  security  among  his 
henchmen,*1ie  selected  a  splendid  house  where  he  could 
set  up  his  high-seat,  which  was  also  to  serve  as  his  judg- 
ment seat;  and  this  throne  he  adorned  with  every  form 
of  royal  decoration.  Then  the  king  sat  down  upon  it  and 


observed  in  what  glory  and  splendor  he  sat.  Next  he 
began  to  ponder  in  what  way  he  must  occupy  this  glori- 
ous high-seat,  so  as  not  to  be  driven  from  it  with  dis- 
honor in  spite  of  his  exalted  position  either  because  of 
injustice  or  malice,  indiscretion  or  folly,  inordinate  am- 
bition, arrogance,  or  excessive  timidity.  Now  it  looks 
most  reasonable  to  me  that,  whereas  kingship  was  origi- 
nally established  in  this  way  as  we  have  just  pointed 
out,  a  king  should  continue  to  maintain  the  arrangement 
which  was  made  in  the  beginning.  And  as  soon  as  the 
king  comes  into  this  seat  which  we  have  just  mentioned 
and  has  reflected  upon  all  those  things  which  we  have 
just  told  about,  it  becomes  his  duty  to  pass  judgment 
in  the  suits  and  on  the  needs  of  his  people,  if  they  are 
presented  to  him.  But  when  there  is  no  official  business 
brought  before  him,  he  should  meditate  on  the  source 
of  holy  wisdom  and  study  with  attentive  care  all  its 
ways  and  paths. 



Son.  I  beg  you,  sire,  not  to  be  displeased  with  me, 
though  I  ask  thoughtless  and  stupid  questions;  but  it 
looks  to  me  like  a  difficult  task  to  search  out  the  v 
sources  of  wisdom  and  learn  its  ways  and  paths.  And 
therefore  I  wish  to  ask  you  to  tell  me  something  about 
this  form  of  study,  so  that  I  may,  if  possible,  derive 
some  insight  from  it. 

Father.  It  ought  not  to  cause  displeasure  to  have  one 
inquire  closely  into  subjects  which  one  is  not  likely  to 
understand  without  some  direction.  But  God's  mercy 


reveals  and  makes  known  many  things  to  mankind 
which  would  be  largely  hidden  from  them,  if  He  were 
unwilling  to  have  them  revealed.  And  many  things 
which  were  formerly  concealed  in  His  own  knowledge 
He  has  made  known  to  us,  because  He  wishes  man  to 
take  a  profitable  interest  in  the  wealth  of  knowledge 
which  he  draws  from  the  divine  treasures.  But  as  a 
guide  toward  this  interest  which  we  have  just  mentioned 
one  should  take  special  note  of  the  words  that  Wis- 
dom used  concerning  herself  when  she  spoke  in  these 

"  I  am  begotten  of  God's  own  heart;  I  have  proceeded 
from  the  mouth  of  the  Highest;  and  I  have  ordered  all 
things.*  The  spirit  of  God  moved  over  empty  space,  and 
we  separated  light  from  darkness;  we  appointed  hours 
and  times,  days  and  nights,  years  and  winters  and  ever- 
lasting summer.  We  built  a  star-lit  throne  for  the  King 

Ijl^   l~*'         of  heaven;  yea,  God  did  nothing  except  in  my  far-seeing 
presence.  Together  we  weighed  the  lightness  of  the  air 

nJl*.  >h<tf  (^nd  the  gravity  of  the  earth; [we  hung  the  ponderous 
i      \  Sphere  of  earth  in  the  thin  air  and  strengthened  the  fir- 
(^mament  of  heaven  with  mighty  forces./ We  commanded 
the  blazing  sun  to  adorn  the  brow  of  day  with  shining 
beams;  but  the  inconstant  moon  we  bade  illumine  the 
darkness  of  night  with  its  pale  sheen.  We  created  a 
comely  man  in  our  image.  God  also  beautified  the  face 
of  the  earth  with  trees  and  herbs  yielding  manifold 
fruits;  He  called  forth  the  beauties  of  the  sky  in  the 
form  of  birds  of  many  kinds;  and  he  concealed  multi- 

*  Cf.  Proverbs,  viii,  22  ff.;  see  also,  among  the  "  Apochrypha,"  Ecdesiasticus 
(The  Wisdom  of  Jesus  the  son  of  Sirach),  xxiv,  5  ff. 


tudes  of  fishes  of  many  sorts  in  the  depths  of  the  waters. 
He  also  commanded  the  four-footed  beasts  to  multiply 
upon  earth  into  many  and  divers  species.  He  girded  the 
entire  circle  of  the  earth  with  a  roaring  ocean  and  briny 
streams.  He  commanded  fresh  waters  to  flow  forth  in 
steep  cascades  over  the  face  of  the  land,  and  built  the 
foundations  of  the  earth  with  numerous  passages,  that 
the  flowing  waters  might  always  be  able  to  fulfil  the 
duties  assigned  them;  and  He  commanded  the  light 
vapors  to  carry  heavy  waters  through  the  heights  of 
the  air  by  means  of  enticing  warmth.  Further  He 
bade  the  wind-swollen  clouds  pour  forth  cool  showers 
over  the  face  of  the  earth.  And  the  Maker  of  all  things 
bade  me  oversee  the  whole  artifice  of  the  divine  handi- 
work. Then  I  moved  briskly  with  treading  foot  over  the 
mountain  top;  I  fared  lightly  over  smooth  vales  and 
level  fields;  I  strode  with  toilsome  and  heavy  step  over 
the  rough  billows;  and  I  measured  the  width  of  the  level 
ocean  with  gentle  tread.  Pressing  forward  with  stiffened 
knee,  I  walked  upon  the  wings  of  the  stormy  winds. 
With  gentle  speech  I  taught  the  silent  calm  its  pleasing 
manner.  I  traced  my  path  through  the  heights  of  heaven 
and  the  expanse  of  the  air;  I  scanned  the  curved  circle 
of  the  restless  ocean;  and  I  paced  and  measured  the  en- 
tire globe  of  the  sphere-shaped  earth.  I  traveled  over 
hills  and  mountains;  I  ran  over  fields  and  meadows  and 
level  valleys;  and  I  gave  honey-like  dew  to  all  the  blos- 
soming herbs.  I  passed  among  thorns  and  bushes  and 
through  forests  of  every  kind  and  gave  sweet  blossoms 
to  the  fruit-bearing  trees.  I  pitched  my  tent  in  a  shadow- 
less  beam  of  light  and  went  forth  from  this  fair  shelter 


arrayed  like  a  bridegroom  and  glad  like  a  mighty  giant 
rejoicing  in  the  race.*  But  mortal  idols  envied  me,  found 
me  guilty,  and  condemned  me  to  die.  In  wrath  I  de- 
scended to  the  lowest  valleys  and  overturned  the  strong- 
holds of  the  mighty  ones  in  mine  anger.  With  violence 
I  shattered  the  metal  gates  of  the  strong  castles  and 
broke  the  firm  iron  pillars  and  the  thick  bars  of  iron. 
J"  [l  took  gold  and  gems  and  jewels,  the  plunder  of  warfare J 

and  then  journeyed  gladly  to  the  higher  abodes  with 
*^s  priceless  booty  .[I  traveled  through  farms  and  villages 
/•**<  and  parishes  offering  the  poor  a  share  in  my  wealthjl 
offered  the  husbandman  fruitful  corn  and  partnership 
with  me.  I  comfort  the  sorrowing;  I  give  rest  to  the 
weary,  drink  to  the  thirsty,  and  food  to  the  hungry. 
Happy  is  he  who  drinks  from  my  cup,  for  my  beverage 
has  an  unfailing  sweetness.  I  journey  through  castles 
and  cities  and  marts;  I  run  over  houses,  markets,  and 
streets;  I  call  with  a  clear  and  friendly  voice,  offering 
food,  entertainment,  and  harmless  amusement.  Happy 
is  he  who  goes  to  my  table,  for  my  meat  has  a  more 
pleasing  savour  than  the  sweetest  perfume;  my  drink  is 
sweeter  than  honey  and  clearer  than  any  wine;  tune- 
ful music  is  heard  at  my  table  in  sweet  and  beautiful 
melody;  there  are  songs  and  poems  such  as  rarely  are 
heard,  merriment  and  gladness,  and  pure  joy  unmixed 
%with  grief.  Happy  is  he  who  shall  live  in  my  house,  for 
in  my  house  are  seven  great  pillars  which  join  together 
the  entire  vault  under  a  good  roof;  they  stand  upon  a 
floor  placed  on  immovable  foundations  and  they  fortify 
all  the  walls  with  great  strength.  In  each  of  these  pillars 

*  An  echo  of  Psdms,  xix,  5. 


may  be  found  the  seven  liberal  arts  of  study.  Further- 
more, my  house  is  strewn  with  fragrant  grasses  and 
lovely  herbs;  it  is  hung  with  beauty  and  elegance,  and 
splendor  in  every  form.  Among  the  humble  I  am  a 
pleasant  companion,  but  toward  the  proud  I  am  stern 
and  haughty.  In  every  school  I  am  the  principal  teacher 
and  I  am  the  highest  form  of  eloquence  in  every  law 
court.  I  am  the  wisest  among  lawyers  and  the  chief 
justice  on  every  bench.  Happy  is  he  who  is  found  to  be 
a  sincere  companion  of  mine;  for  I  am  constantly  with 
my  companions  guarding  them  from  all  perils.  Happy 
is  he  who  suffers  no  disgrace  from  me,  for  my  wrath 
kindles  a  fire  in  its  passion  which  burns  even  to  the 
lowest  depths;  some  day  it  will  consume  the  founda- 
tions of  the  hills  and  swallow  up  the  earth  with  its 
teeming  life.  Where  can  he  hide  who  seeks  to  escape 
from  me  ?  The  spirit  of  God  fills  the  entire  home-circle 
and  searches  out  the  meaning  and  the  interpretation  of 
all  knowledge." 

The  speech  that  you  have  now  heard  is  one  which 
Wisdom  has  spoken  about  herself;  there  are  others  like 
it,  but  loftier,  which  are  not  repeated  here.  For  King 
Solomon  and  Jesus  the  son  of  Sirach  have  written  with 
much  skill  a  great  many  sermons  of  the  kind  that  Wis- 
dom has  spoken  about  herself  in  divers  ways.  But  if 
we  were  to  mention  all  the  speeches  that  can  be  found 
in  their  writings,  our  conversation  would  suffer  a  great 
delay;  and  it  seems  unnecessary  at  this  time  to  bring 
into  our  talk  any  lengthy  discussion  of  those  things 
that  Wisdom  has  said  about  herself.  However,  it  is  the 
duty  of  every  king  to  know  thoroughly  all  the  accounts 


that  Wisdom  has  given  of  herself  or  wise  men  like  those 
just  mentioned  have  written,  and  each  day  to  ponder 
some  part  of  those  speeches,  if  the  duties  of  his  office 
leave  him  any  time  for  that. 



Son.  Since  it  clearly  is  the  official  duty  of  a  king  to  be 
well  informed  in  all  science,  it  is  quite  evident  that  to 
acquire  the  knowledge  which  you  have  just  now  dis- 
cussed must  be  of  the  highest  importance;  for  it  seems 
likely  that  he  will  be  able  to  gather  much  insight  from 
it,  whether  he  wishes  to  meditate  on  the  greatness  of 
divine  power  or  on  the  needs  of  men.  Now  since  you  do 
not  care  to  discuss  these  matters  further,  I  will  ask  you 
to  continue  your  remarks  with  a  few  words  about  what 
a  king  ought  to  consider  before  passing  judgments, 
when  he  comes  into  the  judgment  seat  to  determine 
the  causes  of  men. 

Father.  It  is  indeed  his  duty,  as  you  have  remarked,  to 
look  carefully  into  all  those  speeches  that  we  have  now 
spoken  and  to  study  them  thoroughly,  for  this  reason, 
that  if  he  unravels  them  with  care  in  his  thoughts,  he 
will  surely  find  in  them,  if  he  has  understanding,  nearly 
all  those  things  which  pertain  to  divine  power  and  which 

show  how  God  has  distributed  his  gifts  among  men  and 
other  created  beings.  For  every  king  and  every  other 
discreet  man  can  learn  in  this  way  what  he  actually  is, 
and  what  he  ought  to  be,  if  he  wishes  to  achieve  what 
God  has  intended  for  him.  You  also  ask  how  a  king 


should  weigh  the  judgments  that  he  renders  in  the  dis- 
putes of  men;  but  I  have  given  a  brief  reply  to  that 
question  in  an  earlier  talk,  when  I  told  how  God  passed 
judgment  after  His  covenant  with  Adam  was  broken, 
and  what  judges  He  brought  with  Him  to  the  judg- 
ment seat.  I  also  gave  many  examples  to  show  how 
God  ordered  His  verdicts  in  certain  cases  of  a  later 
time,  those  of  King  Pharaoh  and  all  the  others  who 
were  named  later  in  that  conversation;  and  every  king 
ought  surely  to  weigh  what  is  found  in  those  examples. 
He  must  also  consider  with  care  whether  a  case  calls 
for  severity  and  punishment  or  whether  the  doom 
should  be  tempered;  for  the  judgments  ought  not  to  be 
equally  severe  in  all  cases.  And  every  sentence  should 
be  kept  within  the  bounds  of  justice  and  fairness;  and 
here  I  may  cite  another  example,  if  you  like. 

There  is  something  told  of  a  certain  king,  which  I 
find  most  fitting  to  illustrate  this  point.  This  king  was 
a  man  of  fame  and  power,  thoroughly  learned  in  all 
knowledge  and  just  in  all  his  decisions.  Every  day  there 
came  before  him  a  large  number  of  men  whose  diffi- 
culties he  had  to  settle;  and  every  day  he  sat  a  long 
time  on  the  judgment  seat  to  determine  the  suits  of 
his  people,  and  with  him  sat  the  wise  men,  whom  he 
had  found  to  be  the  most  discreet  and  best  prepared 
for  such  duties.  [But  whenever  the  king  sat  in  this 
assembly  with  the  wise  men  whom  he  had  summoned 
to  serve  with  him,  armed  knights  stood  about  the 
house  to  make  sure  that  he  could  sit  in  perfect' security.  J 
The  king  had  many  sons,  one  of  whom,  however,  was 
the  dearest  of  all;  for  this  son  loved  especially  to  be 


near  his  father  whenever  possible,  and  he  frequently 
sat  on  the  judgment  seat  with  him.  It  was  in  the  king's 
nature  to  be  slow  in  reaching  decisions;  and  it  was  said 
among  men  of  quick  minds  that  he  would  surely  be 
able  to  settle  the  law  suits  and  speak  his  verdicts  more 
promptly,  if  he  were  truly  wise.  This  remark  was  ap- 
proved by  the  king's  son  and  by  many  others  among 
the  wise  men;  and  so  often  was  the  saying  repeated 
that  the  king  himself  got  news  of  it.  Now  it  happened 
at  one  time  that  the  king  was  indisposed  after  a  bleed- 
ing; and  just  then  a  number  of  men  came  to  bring  their 
disputes  before  the  king.  He  then  sent  for  his  son,  the 
one  who  was  in  the  habit  of  sitting  in  judgment  with 
him,  and  said  to  him:  "Summon  the  wise  men  who 
are  accustomed  to  sit  in  judgment  with  me  and  go  into 
my  judgment  hall  and  take  my  seat  for  to-day,  and  de- 
termine as  many  of  the  law  suits  as  you  possibly  can 
get  over."  It  was  done  as  the  king  commanded.  And 
when  the  cases  were  presented  to  those  men,  it  looked 
to  them  as  if  they  could  decide  the  suits  in  a  hurry. 
But  when  the  king's  son  was  ready  to  determine  the 
disputes  which  had  been  brought  before  him,  he  thought 
he  saw  three  young  men  coming  forward,  handsome 
yet  terrible  in  appearance.  Two  of  them  sat  down  at 
his  feet,  one  on  either  side.  One  was  occupied  with  a  set 
of  writings  in  which  were  written  out  all  the  cases  that 
were  to  be  settled  that  day,  one  case  in  each  document. 
The  other  was  busy  with  balances;  and  these  appeared 
so  delicate  that,  if  a  little  hair  was  laid  upon  them,  they 
would  be  disturbed.  The  one  who  had  the  balances 
held  them  up,  while  the  other,  who  had  the  documents, 


laid  the  writings  which  favored  him  who  had  brought 
the  suit  into  one  scale  and  the  writing  in  his  behalf 
who  was  to  reply  in  the  other;  but  it  looked  as  if  the 
scales  would  never  balance.  Then  the  king's  son  thought 
he  saw  that  certain  documents  were  brought  out  in 
which  the  decisions  and  formal  verdicts  were  drawn 
up,  just  as  he  had  intended  to  render  judgment  and 
all  the  wise  men  had  advised.  But  even  after  these 
writings  had  been  laid  in  the  scales,  they  were  as  far 
from  balancing  as  before.  When  the  king's  son  saw 
these  things,  he  looked  to  see  what  the  third  young 
man  was  doing,  and  saw  that  he  stood  near  with  a 
drawn  sword  as  if  ready  to  strike.  The  sword  was  keen- 
edged  and  terrible,  and  the  edges  looked  to  him  as  if 
they  were  both  on  fire.  Then  he  saw  clearly  that,  if  he 
passed  judgment  before  the  scales  balanced,  the  sword 
of  the  young  man  would  immediately  smite  his  neck. 
Just  then  he  glanced  down  before  his  feet,  and  there 
he  saw  the  earth  open  downwards;  underneath  he  saw 
the  gaping  jaws  of  hell,  as  if  waiting  for  him  to  come 
there.  But  when  he  saw  these  things,  he  ceased  speak- 
ing and  rendering  judgments.  When  the  wise  men  re- 
minded him  that  there  were  suits  to  be  settled,  he  called 
them  to  him,  and  everyone  who  came  saw  all  these 
things  that  we  have  now  described.  After  that  none 
dared  to  pronounce  judgment,  for  the  scales  of  the 
young  man  never  balanced,  and  no  suit  was  settled  on 
that  day  ./But  thereafter  no  man  thought  it  strange  if 
the  king  was  slow  in  pronouncing  his  decisions.  I 

Another  and  similar  example  is  found  in  wEatl  told 
you  earlier  in  our  conversation,  when  we  spoke  about 


a  city  in  Ireland  called  Themar;  *  and  I  shall  repeat 
that  story  in  part,  if  you  wish.  This  was  the  leading 
city  in  Ireland  and  the  king  had  his  chief  residence 
there;  and  no  one  knew  of  a  finer  city  on  earth.  Though 
the  inhabitants  were  heathen  at  that  time  and  did  not 
know  the  true  faith  about  God,  they  were  firm  in  the 
belief  that  there  could  be  no  deviation  from  righteous- 
ness in  judgment  on  the  part  of  the  king  who  dwelt  in 
Themar;  for  no  decision  was  pronounced  in  Ireland 
which  they  could  consider  just  before  the  king  at  The- 
mar had  passed  upon  it.  Now  at  one  time  it  came  to 
pass  that  a  case  was  brought  before  the  king  who  sat 
in  Themar  in  which  his  friends  and  kinsmen  were  in- 
terested on  the  one  side,  while  men  whom  the  king  dis- 
liked had  a  part  on  the  other  side;  and  the  king  shaped 
the  verdict  more  according  to  his  own  will  than  to 
justice.  And  this  soon  became  evident,  for  three  days 
later  the  royal  hall  and  all  the  other  houses  that  the 
king  occupied  were  overturned,  so  that  the  foundations 
pointed  upward,  while  the  walls  and  the  battlements 
pointed  down  into  the  earth;  and  the  inhabitants  im- 
mediately began  to  desert  the  city  and  it  was  never 
occupied  after  that.  Now  from  these  accounts  you  are 
to  conclude  that  God  permits  such  things  to  be  re- 
^vealed  to  men,  because  He  wishes  them  to  understand 
\  that  such  an  outcome  is  daily  prepared  in  a  spiritual 
*  and  invisible  manner  for  men  who  refuse  to  render  just 
and  right  judgments,  if  they  are  appointed  to  determine 
the  suits  of  men. 





Son.  These  examples  apply  very  well  to  such  men  as 
are  avaricious  or  obstinate  or  both. 

Father.  You  shall  know  of  a  truth,  that  wherever  jus- 
tice is  sold  for  money  or  is  stricken  down  by  arrogance, 
divine  revenge  and  punishment,  physical  or  spiritual, 
will  surely  come;  and  an  instance  of  this  can  be  cited, 
if  it  is  desired.  There  was  a  prominent  citizen  in  Athens 
named  Stephen;  he  was  judge  in  all  those  cases  that 
arose  within  the  city;  he  was  not  known  as  an  unjust 
man.  Now  it  came  to  pass  that  Stephen  departed  this 
life,  and  two  groups  of  angels  came  to  meet  him,  the 
one  wishing  to  support  his  cause,  the  other  charging 
him  with  much  and  heavy  guilt  and  wishing  to  lead 
him  with  them  to  death.  But  whereas  a  dispute  arose 
between  them  and  neither  side  would  yield,  one  of  the 
angels  proposed  that  they  should  lead  Stephen  before 
the  Judge  and  let  the  dispute  be  settled  by  His  judg- 
ment. When  they  came  into  court,  the  accusing  lawyers 
cried  out  saying  that  they  had  a  grave  charge  against 
Stephen,  namely,  that  he  had  taken  a  plot  of  ground 
from  the  church  of  Saint  Lawrence  by  an  unjust  decree. 
But  the  judge  said  that  the  saint  should  decide  that 
case,  seeing  that  he  was  the  one  robbed.  Now  just  as 
Saint  Lawrence  came  up  to  hear  how  the  suit  was  going 
forward,  one  of  the  angels  said  to  Stephen:  "Why  do 
you  not  call  the  holy  priest  Justin,  whom  you  honored 
so  highly  as  to  have  a  chapel  built  for  him  near  your 
hall  and  whom  you  have  served  in  many  things?  He 


surely  will  be  able  to  assist  you  somewhat  in  these  your 
troubles."  *  Justin  came  at  the  moment  when  the  suit 
was  being  brought  up  before  Saint  Lawrence;  and  after 
the  case  had  been  stated,  the  saint  asked  why  Stephen 
had  plundered  him  and  deprived  his  church  of  land. 
Stephen  replied  that  he  did  not  render  that  unjust  de- 
cision purposely,  but  really  thought  it  was  a  just  de- 
cision. Then  Saint  Lawrence  gripped  Stephen  in  the 
side  and  pinched  him  very  hard.  But  Justin  interceded 
for  him,  begging  the  saint  to  show  mercy  in  this  cause, 
both  because  of  his  intercession  and  because  Stephen 
did  not  know  that  he  had  given  an  unjust  decision. 
While  Saint  Lawrence  was  pinching  his  side,  Stephen 
had  a  feeling  that  even  if  he  were  to  suffer  torture  for 
a  similar  space  of  time  in  hell,  he  would  find  it  no  more 
painful  than  the  clutching  of  Saint  Lawrence.  But  as 
soon  as  Justin  interceded  for  Stephen,  the  saint  released 
him  and  forgave  the  offence. f 

When  the  prosecutors  heard  that  this  indictment  had 
failed,  they  shouted  even  more  loudly,  saying  that  they 
had  still  greater  charges  against  Stephen.  So  they  set 
forth  that  a  Roman  whose  name  was  Tarquin  had  come 
to  Athens,  and  since  he  was  an  alien  and  had  no  kindred 
there,  he  thought  that  he  might  need  help  from  Stephen 
in  his  important  affairs,  seeing  that  Stephen  was  judge 
and  ruler  over  the  whole  city;  and  he  gave  Stephen  a 
fine  horse  on  condition  that  he  was  to  have  justice  and 
equity.  Then  the  Judge  decreed  that,  if  Stephen  had 

*  According  to  the  legend  the  priest  Justin  assisted  at  the  funeral  of  St.  Law- 
rence. Heilagra  Manna  Sbgur,  I,  430. 

t  A  somewhat  different  version  of  this  story  is  given  in  the  Legenda  Aurea  of 
Jacques  de  Voragine,  who  quotes  the  "  Miracles  of  the  Virgin  Mary." 


sold  justice  for  money,  he  should  follow  that  profit  to 
destruction.  But  when  Stephen  was  questioned  whether 
this  charge  was  true  or  not,  he  denied  the  accusation 
and  declared  that  he  could  not  remember  ever  having 
taken  fee  or  gift  for  justice.  Now  since  Stephen  had 
denied  the  charge,  it  was  ordered  that  Tarquin  himself 
should  be  called  to  straighten  the  matter.  When  Tarquin 
came,  he  declared  that  this  was  not  a  true  charge  against 
Stephen;  for  he  asserted  that  Stephen  had  never  taken 
fees  for  justice  so  far  as  he  knew.  "But  having  come 
there  a  stranger,"  said  Tarquin,  "  I  thought  that  I 
might  need  the  good  will  of  such  a  man  and  gave  him 
the  horse  on  my  own  volition  and  not  at  his  request." 
When  the  accusers  heard  that  they  would  surely  fail 
in  this  indictment  too,  they  cried  even  more  loudly, 
saying  that  they  had  a  new  charge  against  Stephen, 
much  greater  than  either  of  the  others.  They  asserted 
that  he  had  arbitrarily  and  illegally  saved  three  men 
from  the  death  penalty,  whom  both  law  and  equity  and 
a  just  sentence  would  have  condemned.  When  Stephen 
was  asked  whether  he  was  guilty  of  this  charge,  he  ad- 
mitted that  he  had  saved  the  men  from  death,  but  de- 
clared that  he  had  always  regretted  having  saved  them 
by  arbitrary  and  illegal  means.  Then  the  Judge  decreed 
that,  if  he  had  rescued  men  from  death  by  violence 
whom  justice  had  condemned  to  die,  he  must  suffer 
death  for  it,  unless  he  would  do  penance  where  the 
offence  was  committed.  Then  the  priest  Justin  asked 
Saint  Lawrence  to  help  in  Stephen's  defense,  seeing 
that  he  had  forgiven  him  the  matter  that  he  had  against 
him  and  no  indictment  had  been  found  true  except  the 


one  that  was  now  being  considered.  So  Lawrence  and 
Justin  went  in  haste  to  the  queen  and,  falling  at  her 
feet,  begged  her  to  request  this  favor,  that  the  verdict 
be  modified  so  that  Stephen  might  be  allowed  to  do 
penance  in  the  place  where  he  had  offended.  When  the 
queen  interceded  for  Stephen,  her  request  was  granted. 
Thereupon  he  was  brought  back  to  Athens,  and  he  arose 
at  the  moment  when  his  body  was  to  be  carried  to  the 
grave.  He  lived  three  winters  after  that  and  did  penance 
for  his  guilt  according  to  the  instruction  of  the  bishop 
who  was  in  charge  of  that  city. 

There  are  many  such  examples  that  could  be  brought  up 
in  this  talk,  if  it  were  thought  necessary;  and  you  should 
now  conclude  from  what  I  set  forth  in  my  last  speech 
that  the  judgments  passed  here  must  be  carefully  scru- 
tinized, and  that  it  is  very  important  for  those  who  are 
appointed  to  be  judges  to  make  sure  whether  the  de- 
cisions are  properly  stated  and  the  findings  correct.  For 
you  heard  how  precisely  the  decrees  were  weighed  be- 
fore the  king's  son,  when  the  scales  were  held  up  before 
him  but  would  never  balance;  and  how  he  was  threat- 
ened with  death,  if  he  should  pronounce  a  different 
judgment  from  the  one  that  would  balance  the  scales. 
You  also  heard  how  God  punished  the  king  and  the 
city  of  Themar,  because  the  king  had  distorted  a  just 
decision.  Though  the  people  did  not  hold  the  true  faith 
about  God,  He  punished  the  deed  nevertheless,  because 
they  believed  that  a  wrong  decision  could  never  come 
from  Themar.  And  in  the  last  example  you  heard  how 
Stephen  was  held  to  account  for  all  the  dooms  that  he 
had  pronounced,  and  suffered  a  reprimand  for  having 


taken  a  gift  from  a  friend;  and  he  was  condemned  to 
die  for  having  saved  men  from  death,  though  many 
would  regard  that  as  a  good  rather  than  an  evil  deed. 



Son.  The  more  examples  of  this  sort  I  hear,  the  more 
difficult  seems  the  position  of  those  who  are  appointed 
to  judge.  I  will  ask  you,  therefore,  to  indicate  some  test 
by  which  I  can  know  when  the  judgments  ought  to  be 
severe  and  when  they  should  be  more  lenient. 

Father.  It  is  difficult  to  state  that  in  definite  terms: 
still,  all  causes  that  are  brought  before  the  men  who  have 
authority  to  judge  will  be  decided  in  some  way.  But  I 
believe  that  a  purpose  to  judge  as  they  think  is  right 
will  do  the  most  to  keep  them  from  falling  into  guilt 
before  God.  For  Stephen  was  acquitted  of  the  charge 
that  he  had  caused  the  church  of  Saint  Lawrence  to 
forfeit  land  by  the  fact  that  he  did  not  know  that  his 
decision  was  wrong;  and  yet  he  did  not  wholly  escape 
punishment,  though  in  some  respects  he  was  punished 
less  than  he  would  have  been,  if  he  had  known  that  his 
verdict  was  wrong.  Now  there  are  four  things  which  he 
who  goes  into  the  judgment  hall  must  leave  outside 
and  never  allow  to  come  into  the  judgment  seat  with 
him  or  even  inside  the  door.  The  first  is  avarice-:  the 
second  ,.£nmity;  the  third  obsjinacy;  the  fourth,  friend- 
_ship.  For  you  heard  that  Stephen  was  ordered  to  dis- 
close whether  he  had  accepted  a  gift  from  Tarquin  and 


had  promised  to  secure  justice  for  him  in  return  for  the 
fee.  And  the  judgment  was,  that  if  he  had  sold  justice 
for  money,  he  should  follow  the  fee  to  destruction.  You 
heard  this,  too,  that  he  was  condemned  to  die  for  hav- 
ing saved  men  from  death  by  force  and  in  defiance  of 
law.  You  also  heard  in  the  earlier  account  how  the  king 
and  the  city  of  Themar  perished  because  the  king,  being 
friendly  to  one  side  and  very  hostile  to  the  other,  had 
distorted  a  just  decision.  Now  for  such  reasons  those 
four  things  must  be  excluded,  lest  any  one  of  them 
should  cause  a  righteous  doom  to  be  distorted. 

You  have  also  asked  when  the  sentence  should  be 
lenient  and  when  severe,  and  that  question  can  now 
be  answered  in  a  few  words.  Careful  account  should 
be  taken  of  the  circumstances  of  the  man's  case  who 
is  accused.  If  a  charge  is  brought  against  one  who  is 
anxious  to  keep  the  peace  but  is  driven  to  violence  by 
the  selfishness  and  arrogance  of  another,  and,  regretting 
his  guilt,  is  anxious  to  atone  for  it,  —  if  such  are  the 
circumstances,  there  should  be  lenient  judgment  in  his 
case.  Likewise,  if  a  man  breaks  the  law  who  is  ignorant 
and  does  not  know  that  he  is  transgressing,  and  would 
not  have  done  the  deed  had  he  known  it  to  be  contrary 
to  law,  his  case,  too,  calls  for  a  lenient  sentence.  Even 
when  the  ugliest  cases  that  are  known  among  men,  such 
as  theft  and  robbery,  come  up,  one  should  investigate 
how  the  crime  came  about.  If  a  man  is  so  hard  bestead 
that  he  can  get  no  food  either  by  begging  or  buying 
and  cannot  get  work,  while  hunger  and  his  physical 
nature  drive  him  beyond  endurance,  the  judge  should 
be  lenient  with  him,  even  though  he  be  taken  in  guilt; 


and  whenever  necessity  drives  a  man  into  crime  and 
law-breaking,  the  judgment  should  be  tempered. 

However,  if  the  accused  are  men  who  have  been  led 
into  crime  by  insolence,  ambition,  avarice,  or  selfishness, 
the  dooms  ought  to  be  severe,  though  justice  and  the 
law  of  the  land  must  be  observed  in  every  instance.  And 
in  cases  like  those  to  which  we  have  just  referred  the 
sentence  should  be  as  severe  as  the  law  permits;  while 
in  the  cases  mentioned  earlier  the  law  should  be  applied 
with  due  allowance  for  the  difficulties  that  were  at  hand. 
If  the  distress  that  led  to  the  trouble  is  considered  great, 
the  judgment  should  be  tempered  accordingly.  But  if  a 
jcing  or  any  ruler  who  is  a  judge  and  has  power  to  pun-^ 
ish,  takes  life  as  a  punishment,  he  should  always  do  it  -T  ' 
with  great  reluctance,  in  bis  heart  lamenting  the  jeath^ 
and  ill-fortune  of  the  offender.  He  must  take  heed,  how- 
ever, lest  he  slay  out  of  his  own  cruelty  or  in  anger  and 
hatred  for  the  one  who  is  to  die.  Let  him  slay  him  in 
just  punishment  and  out  of  love  for  those  who  live 
after;  because  he  believes  that  they  will  live  in  greater 
security  and  lead  better  lives  after  having  seen  the 
death  and  troubles  of  such  a  one;  and  because  he  in- 
tends that  the  fear  and  terror  which  the  misfortunes  of 
another  have  brought  upon  him  shall  guide  those  to 
rectitude  and  good  morals,  whom  nature  is  unable  to 
guide  because  of  their  excessive  ambition  or  stupidity. 
A  famous  man,  an  upright  and  excellent  emperor,  once 
ordained  respecting  the  decrees  of  kings,  that  if  a  king 
should  become  so  angry  with  any  one  that  he  planned 
his  death,  and  if  his  guilt  were  not  so  evident  that  he 
could  with  justice  be  condemned  at  once  to  an  imme- 


diate  death,  that  man  should  be  kept  in  the  king's  garth 
or  in  custody  forty  days  before  his  case  should  be  finally 
determined.*  And  it  would  be  well  if  every  king  would 
observe  this  enactment,  in  order  that  he  might  frame 
his  decisions  with  regard  for  reason  and  justice  and  not 
in  sudden  anger.  JLf  a  man  is  convicted  of  an  offence 
for  which  law  and  justice  impose  a  fine  but  not  death, 
the  king,  or  the  lord  who  governs  the  land,  shalLseize 
his  wealth,  not  because  he  loves  and  covets  the  money, 
but  because  a  just  penalty  and  the  laws  of  the  land  de- 

.— -|MBBi1Mrr— ^^^•••••••"••••••••^^•i 

mand  it.  If  all  these  things  which  we  have  now  set  forth 
are  carefully  observed,  I  believe  that  those  who  are 
appointed  to  be  judges  will  suffer  no  great  reproaches 
from  God. 



Son.  It  seems  reasonable  that  a  land,  which  is  placed 
in  charge  of  a  ruler  who  attends  carefully  to  these  things, 
will  be  well  governed;  and  the  people  ought  to  show 
proper  appreciation  of  his  government.  Still  with  your 
permission  I  shall  now  ask  about  certain  matters  that 
interest  me  concerning  rightful  verdicts.  You  referred 
to  an  order  given  by  an  emperor  as  to  punishments  de- 
creed by  a  king  (which  looks  to  me  like  good  law),  that 

*  This  is  probably  an  allusion  to  the  edict  of  Theodosius  II  "  which  interposes 
a  salutary  interval  of  thirty  days  between  the  sentence  and  the  execution." 
Gibbon,  Decline  and  Fall  of  the  Roman  Empire,  III,  176;  Mommsen  and 
Meyer  (editors),  Theodosiani  Libri  XVI,  I,  part  2,  503  (viii,  40: 13).  The  edict 
was  probably  a  part  of  the  penance  exacted  from  the  Emperor  after  his 
massacre  of  the  Thessalonians.  See  Ambrosius  Saga  in  Heilagra  Manna  Sogur, 


a  man  who  had  incurred  the  king's  wrath  should  be 
given  a  reprieve  of  forty  days  in  the  king's  custody,  lest 
a  verdict  be  rendered  too  quickly  in  his  case  and  in 
violent  anger;  and  it  seems  to  me  that  a  king  will  need 
to  possess  much  good  nature,  if  he  is  to  spare  a  man  in 
his  anger.  But  even  so  righteous  and  holy  a  man  as 
Moses  was  could  not  control  his  wrath  on  that  day, 
when  he  came  in  anger  to  the  people  of  Israel;  for  I  am 
told  that  his  wrath  rose  to  such  violence  that  he  dashed 
the  two  tables  of  stone,  which  he  bore  in  his  arms  and 
upon  which  God  Himself  had  written  the  ten  command- 
ments of  His  law  with  His  own  fingers,  against  a  rock 
and  broke  them  into  fragments  in  his  fury;  and  rushing 
at  once  to  arms,  he  and  the  men  who  were  with  him 
slew  many  hundred  persons  that  day.*  I  have  also  heard 
that  David  in  sudden  wrath  ordered  the  man,  who  came 
from  the  battle  in  which  Saul  fell,  bringing  the  tidings 
that  Saul  was  dead,  to  be  slain  immediately;  f  and  he 
did  not  order  him  to  be  kept  for  further  inquiry. 

Father.  Remember  what  I  called  to  your  attention 
in  an  earlier  remark,  namely,  that  these  laws  are  in- 
tended for  men  who  do  not  fall  into  such  evident  trans- 
gressions that  a  rightful  verdict  can  condemn  them  to 
immediate  death.  But  when  Moses  came  away  from 
God,  he  knew  God's  wrath  toward  all  the  people  of 
Israel,  and  consequently  did  a  deed  of  kindness  and  not 
of  hatred  when  by  this  chastisement  he  turned  them 
from  error  and  evil  ways;  just  as  I  have  told  you  that 
[a  king  in  punishing  should  be  moved  by  kindness  and 
not  by  hatredAFor  all  penRltlVs  thnt  nrp  inflirtrH  br 

*  Exodus,  xxxii.  f  H  Samuel,  i. 


cause jai. -hatred  are  murder;  wHle^jgunishment  inflicted 
for  the  sake  of  love  and  justice  is  a  holy  deed  and^ot 



Son.  Now,  if  you  permit,  I  wish  to  ask  more  fully 
about  penalties;  for  few  men,  indeed,  are  able  to  com- 
prehend how  it  can  be  a  good,  holy,  and  loving  deed  to 
take  a  man's  life;  wherefore  I  with  many  others  on  the 
outside  should  like  to  have  you  explain  briefly  how  it 
can  be  a  good  and  proper  deed  to  slay  men  in  righteous 
punishment;  inasmuch  as  all  gentle  and  peaceful  per- 
sons have  a  great  aversion  to  manslaughter,  regarding 
it  as  evil  and  sinful. 

Father.  The  subjects  that  we  are  now  discussing  are 
clearly  illustrated  in  the  case  of  Moses.  Holy  man  as 
he  was  and  meek  and  right-minded  in  every  way,  had 
he  known  that  his  act  of  punishment  was  sinful  like  any 
other  slaughter,  he  would  not  have  ordered  it.  But  if 
he  had  been  so  zealous  in  his  obstinate  wrath  that  he 
had  done  this  deed  in  anger  rather  than  for  the  sake  of 
justice,  God's  righteousness  would  surely  have  punished 
him  with  a  severe  chastisement  and  stern  revenge  for 
the  great  slaughter  that  he  committed.  For  Moses  com- 
manded every  man  who  took  up  arms  with  him  to  spare 
none,  neither  father  nor  brother  nor  other  kinsmen,  if 
they  had  been  guilty  of  the  deed  that  had  called  God's 
anger  down  upon  them  .[Moses  showed  a  threefold  right- 
eousness in  this  chastisement:  for  those  who  were  with 
him  in  the  slaughter  sanctified  their  hands  in  the  blood 
of  those  whom  they  slew,  since  in  their  deed  they  ren- 



dered  obedience  to  their  leader  and  fulfilled  the  sacred 
laws.  Those  who  survived  regretted  their  sins  and  turned 
their  hearts  to  penitence  for  having  broken  the  law, 
while  those  who  were  slain  were  cleansed  in  their 
penance  and  in  the  pangs  which  they  suffered  when  they 
died.  And  it  was  much  better  for  them  to  suffer  a  brief 
pain  in  death  than  a  long  torture  in  hell.  Of  the  same 
character  are  the  penalties  that  kings  impose;  for  a 
king  cleanses  himself  in  the  blood  of  the  unjust,  if  he 
slays  them  as  a  rightful  punishment  to  fulfil  the  sacred 
laws. (Moreover,  there  are  many  capable  men  who  fear  ^ 
punishment  alone,  and  would  commit  crimes  if  they  S*  J 

were  not  in  terror  of  the  king's  revenge.jBut  one  who  is  -  !^' 
to  suffer  punishment  will  confess  his  sins  and  repent  of 
his  misdeeds;  though  if  he  did  not  see  a  sudden  death 
prepared  for  him,  he  would  show  no  repentance.  He  is, 
therefore,  saved  by  his  repentance  and  the  pangs  which 
he  suffers  in  his  death.  And  it  is  better  for  him  to  suffer 
a  brief  punishment  here  than  endless  agony  and  tor- 
ture; for  God  never  punishes  the  same  sin  twice.  Con- 
sequently the  king's  punishment  becomes  a  good  and 
kind  deed  toward  all  those  who  are  subject  to  him,  for 
he  would  rather  have  the  one  who  is  to  be  punished 
suffer  a  brief  pain  here  for  his  wickedness  than  to  be 
lost  forever,  in  the  world  to  come.  Through  this  kind- 
ness he  also  saves  the  righteous  and  peaceable  from  the 
avarice  and  the  wickedness  of  the  violent.  We  may, 
therefore,  conclude  that  .punishment  is  a  good  deed,  if 
it  is  exacted  according  to  a  righteous  verdict;  for  King 
Saul  was  deposed  from^  his  kingship  because  he  failed 
to  punish  according  to  God's  orders  at  the  time  when 
he  invaded  the  kingdoms  of  Amalek  and  the  Amorites. 




Son.  Now  I  wish  to  ask  you  why  David  slew  the 
man  of  whom  we  spoke  earlier,  him  who  brought  the 
tidings  that  Saul  had  fallen,  and  whether  he  slew  him 
justly  or  did  it  from  sudden  anger. 

Father.  When  the  man  had  told  these  tidings,  David 
asked  how  he  knew  them.  And  he  said  that  he  had  lifted 
up  weapons  against  Saul  at  the  king's  own  request. 
^'V'When  David  heard  this,  he  spoke  thus :(*'  A  wretched 
j  j  creature  you  are,  who  dared  to  lay  hands  on  the  Lord's 
\  anointed;  and  it  is  better  for  you  to  suffer  a  swift  pun- 
/  ishment  here  than  to  have  this  crime  pursue  you  into 
everlasting  hell. '3  Thereupon  David  ordered  him  to  be 
slain.  But  when  he  who  had  hoped  to  receive  a  joyous 
welcome  and  good  gifts  for  his  tidings,  saw  that  death 
was  to  be  his  reward,  he  repented  that  he  had  falsely 
imputed  this  crime  to  himself  and  would  gladly  have 
withdrawn  his  words,  if  he  had  been  permitted  to  do 
so.  But  David  spoke  thus:  "  Your  own  testimony  con- 
demns you  and  not  I;  for  you  have  charged  yourself 
with  this  murder  of  the  Lord's  anointed."  We  have 
other  and  similar  instances  in  the  case  of  the  men  who 
slew  Ishbosheth,  the  son  of  Saul,  hoping  thereby  to  win 
David's  friendship;  and  they  fared  to  David  with  the 
news  that  they  had  slain  his  enemy  who  had  planned 
to  rise  up  against  him  and  his  kingship.  But  when  David 
heard  these  tidings  he  answered  in  this  wise;£'  Wretches 
you  are  for  this  deed,  having  slain  your  lord,  though  you 


were  Ishbosheth's  own  men;  you  have  committed  a  vile 
and  treacherous  crime  in  laying  hands  upon  your  lord, 
and  you  have  not  acted  as  if  you  were  my  men  and  did 
this  out  of  loyalty  to  me.  Now  it  will  be  necessary  for 
you  to  suffer  a  swift  revenge  and  a  prompt  punishment, 
lest  this  deed  draw  you  into  everlasting  torment. "/Then 
David  ordered  his  men  to  cut  off  their  hands  and  feet 
and  afterwards  to  hang  them  beside  a  pool  in  a  city 
called  Hebron.* 



Son.  I  will  venture  to  ask  one  more  question  about 
those  cases  in  which  it  seems  to  me  that  God  has  passed 
rather  strange  sentences.  I  am  asking  chiefly  because  I 
find  it  hard  to  understand  what  reason  or  circumstance 
can  have  caused  the  difference  in  these  decrees  which 
I  now  intend  to  bring  up.  You  stated  earlier  in  your 
speech  tha^God  deprived  Saul  of  his  kingdom  because 
he  was  too  lenient  in  cases  of  homicideTlthough  a  man 
will  think  that  this  was  no  great  offence,  as  it  is  easy 
enough  to  slay  multitudes  if  that  be  regarded  a  better 
deed  than  to  let  them  live.  Still,  this  leniency  proved 
such  a  grievous  fault  that  God  said  He  regretted  having 
chosen  Saul  king  over  his  people,  and  immediately 
threatened  —  what  He  later  carried  out  —  that  the 
kingship  should  never  be  transmitted  to  his  descend- 
ants; and  immediately,  though  Saul  was  still  living,  He 

*  II  Samuel,  iv. 


appointed  another  to  be  king  after  his  days.  But  after 
David  had  become  king,  he  committed  a  crime  which 
will  scarcely  seem  less  when  reflected  upon;  for  he  com- 
mitted adultery  with  the  wife  of  Uriah  his  knight,  a 
good  and  faithful  man,  and  afterwards  contrived  his 
death,  not  as  a  just  penalty  but  because  he  wanted  his 
wife.  But  later,  when  Nathan  the  prophet  pointed  out 
the  sin  to  David  and  he  confessed,  he  was  forgiven  at 
once;  indeed,  it  seemed  as  if  his  kingship  was  more 
stable  after  that  time  than  before.  Now  I  do  not  know 
which  is  the  worse  crime,  to  kill  an  innocent  man  and 
violate  his  wife,  or  to  let  the  guilty  have  their  lives. 
Many  a  man,  who  is  ignorant  as  to  the  reason  why, 
may  indeed  imagine  that  God  loved  David  more  than 
Saul,  and  that  David's  crime  was  counted  less  for  that 
reason.  But  inasmuch  as  God  always  judges  according 
to  justice  and  without  regard  to  persons,  it  would  be 
sinful  to  hold  wrong  ideas  about  this;  and  it  would  be 
well  if  you  could  add  a  few  words  in  explanation,  unless 
you  think  that  my  questions  are  stupid.  It  may  also  be 
that  great  lords  who  are  chosen  to  be  judges  will  get  a 
better  insight  into  these  things,  if  they  are  clearly  ex- 

Father.  This  question  is,  of  such  a  character  that  it 
will  demand  an  extended  answer,  if  it  is  to  be  fully  un- 
derstood. But  since  it  has  been  brought  up,  I  shall  be 
glad  to  answer  it  as  far  as  I  can  and  as  briefly  as  I  can. 
First  it  is  necessary  to  recall  what  I  said  in  an  earlier 
speech  when  we  talked  about  dooms,  —  when  they 
should  be  severe  and  when  lenient:  I  then  brought  out 
the  fact  that  if  a  good  and  peace-loving  man  should 


fall  into  sin  and  his  deed  should  seem  evil  to  him  and 
he  were  anxious  to  do  penance,  then  the  judgment  ought, 
to  be  merciful  in  his  case  on  account  of  hum  an  nature; 
for  human  nature  is  so  frail  that  no  one  can  be  so  care- 
ful as  never  to  fall  intc^sin.  But  some  add  to  their  offence 
by  taking  pride  in  it,  and  they  are  not  careful  to  avoid 
falling  into  another  sin.  Now  David  was  of  all  men  the 
most  adroit  in  the  use  of  weapons  in  warfare  and  he 
was  by  nature  quite  severe  in  righteous  chastisement; 
but  he  was  a  kind-hearted  man,  friendly  toward  every- 
one, and  sympathetic  toward  all  who  suffered  misfor- 
tunes. He  was  also  trustworthy  in  every  respect,  honest 
and  faithful  in  friendship  and  in  all  his  promises,  and 
so  virtuous  that  he  would  allow  nothing  vicious  about 
his  person,  —  indeed  his  like  was  not  found  among  all 
the  people  of  Israel;  for  when  God  chose  David  to  be 
king,  He  testified  in  these  words,  saying  that  He  had 
found  a  man  after  His  own  heart.  But  human  frailty 
caused  him  to  fall  in  the  matter  that  we  mentioned 
earlier:  he  violated  Uriah's  wife.  But  after  he  had  fallen 
into  this  transgression  and  when  he  was  once  more 
alone,  he  repented  deeply,  sighing  and  weeping.  Inas- 
much as  the  rules  of  the  law  would  condemn  this  crime 
as  a  shameful  reproach,  if  it  were  rumored  among  the 
people,  David  planned  to  keep  the  matter  quiet,  letting  \ 
God  see  his  repentance  but  keeping  the  people  in  ig-  A 
norance  of  his  offence,  lest  they  should  take  his  misdeed 
as  an  example  and  regard  it  as  less  serious  to  fall  into 
sin  and  transgression  if  they  knew  of  his  guilt.  So  David  I 
sought  to  hide  his  guilt  by  a  crafty  design:  for  as  soon 
as  he  learned  that  Bathsheba,  Uriah's  wife,  was  preg- 


nant,  he  sent  for  Uriah,  and  hoping  to  avoid  taking  his 
life,  he  ordered  him  to  lie  with  his  wife  so  that  the  off- 
spring might  be  known  as  his,  while  David  would  atone 
in  secret  for  the  sin  of  his  whoredom  and  never  after- 
ward come  near  Uriah's  wife.  But  when  he  found  that 
Uriah  happened  to  be  unwilling  to  lie  with  his  wife,  he 
contrived  to  conceal  his  sin  from  men,  though  he  in- 
creased it  in  the  sight  of  God.  Later,  when  Nathan  the 
prophet  charged  David  with  all  this  guilt,  he  answered 
as  if  condemning  himself,  speaking  these  words:  "So 
^heavy  and  evil  is  my  transgression  that  I  am  worthy 
of  death  because  of  this  thing;  a  wretch  am  I  to  have 
set  such  an  example  before  God's  people,  over  whom  He 
has  appointed  me  ruler  and  judge;  rather  would  I  now 
suffer  a  speedy  death  than  have  this  misdeed  pursue  me 
tojiell.  Now  since  I  have  set  an  evil  example  before  the 
people  of  God  by  my  sin,  I  am  ready  to  suffer  punish- 
ment according  to  the  Lord's  will  as  a  warning  to  the 
people  not  to  fall  into  such  transgression."  But  when 
Truth  and  Justice  saw  David's  penitence,  they  per- 
mitted Mercy  to  pass  the  judgment;  for  the  prophet 
Nathan  replied  in  this  wise:  "  God  sees  your  repentance, 
and  He  does  not  desire  you  to  suffer  death  for  your  sin, 
but  He  will  punish  you  with  an  endurable  chastisement 
for  this  deed  before  you  die."  Now  you  must  know  that 
God  did  not  forgive  David's  crime  so  completely  as  to 
excuse  him  from  just  punishment;  for  this  was  the  first 
penalty  that  the  king  suffered  from  God:  the  child  which 
he  had  begotten  with  Bathsheba  was  a  man  child  and 
very  lovely,  wherefore  David  much  desired  that  it  might 
live;  but  it  did  not  please  God  to  let  him  enjoy  the  child 




which  he  had  begotten  in  such  a  sinful  way.  Neverthe- 
less, David  lay  seven  days  upon  the  earth  in  the  raiment 
of  mourning,  fasting  and  imploring  God  to  let  the  child 
live.  But  God  would  not  hear  his  prayer,  and  the  child 
expired  on  the  seventh  day.*  And  this  was  the  second 
punishment,  that  God  refused  to  let  David  build  him 
a  temple;  f  God  even  called  him  a  murderer,  because 
he  had  deprived  Uriah  of  life^But  for  the  adultery  which 
he  had  committed  with  Uriah's  wife,  he  had  to  suffer  / 
this  disgrace,  that  his  son  Absalom,  in  the  sight  of  all  ^>      J^v 
the  people,  went  in  unto  David's  concubines  and  thus    \ 
dishonored  his  father  before  all  the  people. t  j 

You  have  also  asked  which  crime  was  the  worse, 
that  David  caused  Uriah  to  be  slain  without  guilt  and 
seduced  his  wife,  or  that  Saul  refused  to  kill  so  many 
people  of  Amalek;  and  you  shall  know  of  a  truth  that 
Saul's  crime  was  the  greater;  for  no  offence  is  graver 
than  to  be  disobedient  toward  one's  superiors,  as  Saul  u/ 
was.  And  you  may  observe  even  at  this  day  among 
cloister  folk,  that  if  a  monk  is  disobedient  toward  his 
abbot,  where  an  abbot  rules  the  cloister,  or  toward  the 
prior,  where  such  a  one  controls,  he  is  forthwith  ex-  >-• 
pelled  from  the  holy  order  and  from  the  monastery  and 
is  thenceforth  regarded  as  a  layman.  Likewise,  if  a 
priest  refuses  to  obey  his  superior  the  bishop,  he  is  at 
once  deprived  of  clerical  honors,  and  the  right  to  say 
mass  is  taken  from  him  as  well  as  all  other  official  duties. 
In  the  same  way,  if  a  bishop,  be  he  humble  or  powerful, 

*  The  story  of  David's  great  sin  concerning  Bathsheba  and  Uriah  and  its 
consequences  is  told  in  II  Samuel,  xi-xii,  but  it  is  probable  that  the  author's 
source  is  some  Biblical  paraphrase  rather  than  the  Vulgate  itself, 
f  /  Chronicles,  xxii,  8.  J  11  Samuel,  xvi,  21-22. 


refuses  to  obey  his  superior^e  js _immediatejy^horn  of 
his  dignity  and  all  his  office;  and  after  that  he  is  re- 
garded among  learned  men  as  any  other  layman  un- 
worthy of  any  distinction.  And  it  ought  to  be  even  more 
evident  that  it  could  not  prosper  Saul  to  be  disobedient 
to  such  a  lord  as  God  Himself,  when  he  was  ordered  to 
invade  Amalek  and  the  land  of  the  Amorites  and  to  slay 
all  that  was  living.  God  took  His  rod  of  punishment 
and  placed  it  in  Saul's  hands,  bidding  him  execute  His 
wrath  and  spare  nothing  that  was  living;  to  burn  forti- 
fied cities,  farmsteads,  clothing,  and  whatever  else  there 
was;  to  lay  the  entire  land  in  ruins  and  thus  cleanse  it 
with  sword  and  ax  and  fire.  Saul,  however,  carried  out 
the  vengeance  that  he  was  charged  with  in  another  way, 
by  destroying  everything  that  was  lacking  in  beauty  or 
value;  but  whatever  seemed  to  him  to  be  beautiful, 
valuable,  and  worth  possessing  he  spared,  brought 
home  to  his  country,  and  distributed  among  his  men. 
But  when  Samuel  came  to  Saul  and  showed  him  the 
wrath  of  God,  Saul  spoke  as  if  excusing  himself:  "  Praise 
be  to  God,  for  I  have  fulfilled  His  command:  I  invaded 
Amalek  and  visited  the  entire  kingdom  with  fire  and 
sword;  but  King  Agag  I  have  brought  with  me,  wishing 
to  honor  God's  command  by  slaying  him  here,  if  He 
wills  that  he  die.  Fat  oxen  and  fine  sheep  I  have  brought 
hither  to  sacrifice  such  to  God  as  are  acceptable  to  Him; 
and  the  children  of  the  chief  men  I  have  brought  hither 
to  be  kept  in  bondage  and  distress,  doing  fitting  service 
for  ourselves." 

Then  Samuel  replied:  "How  can  God  now  accept 
that  as  a.  sacrifice  which  He  has  Himself  cursed  in  His 


anger  ?  For  God  demands  a  blessed  and  not  an  accursed 
sacrifice;  and  you  shall  know  of  a  surety  that  obedience 
is  more  pleasing  to  God  than  any  sacrifice."  Truth 
stood  by  and  said:  "  What  need  is  there  to  conceal  the 
motive  that  induced  Saul  to  neglect  doing  as  God  com- 
manded him  ?  Saul  imagined  himself  so  firmly  estab- 
lished in  his  kingship  that  he  could  order  these  things 
more  according  to  his  own  liking  than  to  God's  com-        /»\ 
mand;  he  showed  excessive  pride  in  Jailing  to  remember 
who  had  given  him  the  power. ^.nd  this  is  the  reason  "^      r 
why  he  took  good  horses,  oxen,  sheep,  and  much  else  of    f 
value,  that  he  might  satisfy  the  greed  of  his  knights  and     ^ 
the  rapacity  of  his  other  warriors  rather  than  carry  out    C 
the  commands  of  GodJAnd  he  spoke  falsely  when  he_y 
said  that  he  had  brought  horses  and  sheep  and  other 
things  of  value  into  his  kingdom  to  sacrifice  them  to 
God ;  for  he  knew  that  a  cursed  sacrifice  was  not  accept- 
able to  God."  Then  the  decision  was  left  to  Justice  and 
she  decreed  in  this  wise:  "Whereas  God  took  His  rod 
of  punishment,  and  placing  it  in  Saul's  hands  bade  him 
execute  the  divine  wrath  upon  a  cursed  people,  let  that 
punishment  now  come  upon  Saul^tCn^his  family  which 
he  failed  to  visit  upon  those  whom  God  had  com- 
manded him  to  carry  it  out  upon.  But  the  same  rod  of 
punishment  that  was  given  to  Saul  to  shake  over  others, 
another  shall  now  hold  and  shake  over  Saul  and  all  his 
kin.  And  because  he  wished  in  his  avarice  to  possess 
the  riches  that  were  forbidden  him,  let  him  now  forfeit 
those  riches  that  were  given  to  him  before."  *  But  the 
reason  why  Justice  passed  such  a  severe  judgment  upon 

*  On  this  episode  see  /  Samuel,  xv. 


Saul  was  that  God  knew  his  disposition  thoroughly. 
For  it  was  in  Saul's  nature  to  be  proud  and  stubborn 
in  the  face  of  God;  and  as  soon  as  he  thought  himself 
firmly  established  in  his  kingdom,  he  became  greedy 
and  avaricious,  as  is  evident  from  this  account. 

Now  there  was  this  difference  between  the  tempers 
of  David  and  Saul:  when  Nathan  the  prophet  charged 
David  with  sin,  he  spoke  reproachfully  of  his  fault,  al- 
most as  if  condemning  himself,  and  implored  mercy, 
though  willing  to  suffer  punishment,  as  if  prepared  to 
accept  with  gratitude  any  terms  which  God  might  im- 
pose for  his  misdeed;  therefore  he  won  favor  through 
the  lenient  judgment  of  Mercy. (Yet,  his  son  died  be- 
cause of  Uriah's  death,  though  David  himself  did  not 
die;  and  for  violating  Uriah's  wife  he  suffered  a  great 
disgrace  in  that  his  son  dishonored  him  in  the  sight  of 
all  the  people  J 

But  when  Samuel  accused  Saul  of  his  crime,  he  re- 
plied as  if  defending  his  cause  and  praised  himself  for 
having  done  so  well  and  spoke  in  this  wise:  "  Praise  be 
to  God,  for  I  have  done  what  He  commanded;  "  though 
he  knew  in  his  own  mind  that  anything  else  was  nearer 
the  truth.  Therefore  he  was  stricken  by  the  sentence  of 
Justice,  God  seeing  his  arrogant  boasting  and  lying  ex- 
cuses. But  his  arrogance  and  envy  became  even  more 
evident  after  he  discovered  that  God  was  angry  with 
him;  for  Saul  fell  ill;  and  now  and  then  madness  came 
upon  him,  so  that  he  had  to  be  watched  when  the 
malady  troubled  him.  Then  it  was  learned  that  if  a 
man  could  be  found  who  could  play  the  harp  well  be- 
fore him,  he  would  find  relief  and  the  illness  would 


afflict  him  less.  So  they  found  a  lovely  youth  whose 
name  was  David,  the  son  of  Jesse  in  Bethlehem,  who 
knew  how  to  strike  the  harp  skilfully;  he  came  to  the 
king,  and  whenever  the  malady  came  upon  Saul,  David, 
standing  before  him,  struck  the  harp  and  the  illness 
departed  immediately.  (But  when  Saul  discovered  that 
the  malady  was  less  severe,  he  loved  David  highly  and 
made  him  his  shield  bearer.^Samuel,  however,  had  al- 
ready anointed  him  king  in  secret,  no  one  knowing  it 
but  his  father  and  his  brothers.  David  remained  with 
Saul  many  days  and  served  him  faithfully;  and  all  men 
perceived  that  God  was  with  him  in  all  his  doings.  Saul,  />  / 

too,  was  well  disposed  toward  him  at  first  {he  gave  him  ^ 

his  daughter  and  assigned  him  a  troop  to  command.!  J 
But  after  Saul  had  won  his  great  victory  over  the  Philis- 
tines and  David  had  slain  the  giant  Goliath  and  they 
were  returning  from  the  warfare,  women  came  forth 
from  cities  and  fortresses,  dancing  toward  them  and 
singing  praises  to  them  for  their  victory.  And  the  bur- 
den of  their  song  was  this,  that  Saul  had  conquered  a 
thousand  but  David  ten  thousand.!  When  Saul  heard 
this  he  was  seized  with  wrath  and  envy  toward  David 
and  said  in  his  own  thoughts :  "Now  I  perceive  that  God 
has  chosen  this  man  to  take  the  kingdom  after  me  instead 
of  my  sons;  but  I  shall  try  to  upset  this  plan  if  I  can, 
though  so  cleverly  that  no  one  shall  perceive  that  I 
kill  him  intentionally."  A  few  days  later  Saul's  habitual 
illness  came  upon  him;  but  David  took  his  harp  and, 
standing  before  him,  played  as  was  his  wont  to  relieve 
the  king's  illness.  Saul  had  a  javelin  in  his  hand  which 

*  I  Samuel,  xvi,  14-23.  t  IbM->  xviii,  12-21.  J  Ibid.,  xviii,  6-9. 


he  threw  at  David,  aiming  to  drive  it  through  him  and 

pin  him  to  the  wall  of  the  room.  Thus  he  had  planned 

to  avoid  responsibility  for  the  murder  by  leading  the 

people  to  think  he  had  done  it  in  frenzy  and  not  with 

evil  intent.  David  escaped  and  found  security  from 

t>  .  /that  peril.fBut  when  Saul  saw  that  David  had  escaped 

land  he  had  not  caught  him,  he  sent  him  on  frequent 

J  forays  among  heathen  people  in  the  hope  that  he  would 

)  be  slain  in  warfare.  But  the  more  frequently  David 

/  went  out  into  battle,  the  more  frequent  victories  and 

y  the  greater  honors  did  he  win;jand  God  magnified  him 

before  the  eyes  of  all  the  people.  And  the  more  Saul  saw 

him  prosper,  the  more  he  envied  him.* 

Now  you  can  imagine  the  state  of  King  Saul's  mind: 
he  could  say  nothing  against  David,  only  what  was 
good.  But  since  he  perceived  that  God  loved  David 
much  because  of  his  humility  and  loyalty,  he  envied 
him  as  Cain  envied  his  brother  Abel  because  God  loved 
him.  Indeed,  Saul's  enmity  toward  David  became  so 
evident  that  he  could  not  conceal  his  intentions  to  kill 
him.  Then  Jonathan,  Saul's  son,  reminded  the  king 
that  it  would  be  a  sin  to  slay  an  innocent  man,  speaking 
in  this  wise:  "  My  lord,  why  are  you  angry  with  your 
servant  David  ?  If  there  is  any  guilt  on  his  part  that 
may  be  injurious  to  your  kingdom  or  dignity,  every 
man  who  is  with  you  here  will  seek  his  life;  and  we  can 
seize  him  whenever  we  like,  for  he  is  not  on  his  guard 
against  us,  knowing  himself  to  be  guiltless.  He  has 
served  you  long  and  has  been  faithful  in  all  things;  he 
fought  against  great  odds  when  he  slew  Goliath,  and 

*  Cf.  /  Samuel,  xix,  8-11. 


God  rescued  your  entire  kingdom  through  David's  won- 
derful victory,  which  he  won  fighting  unarmed  against 
a  giant.  He  has  waited  upon  you  in  your  distressing  ill- 
ness; and  wherever  you  have  placed  him  at  the  head  of 
the  host,  he  has  brought  a  vigorous  defense  to  your 
kingdom,  and  no  one  knows  that  he  has  been  anything 
but  loyal.  Therefore  conquer  your  wrath,  sire,  and  do 
not  fall  into  such  an  evident  sin  of  murder  before  God 
as  to  slay  an  innocent  man."  *  Saul,  however,  became 
only  the  more  wrathful  and  charged  with  treason  his 
son  and  everyone  else  who  spoke  a  good  word  for 

David  fled  from  King  Saul's  wrath  with  a  few  men, 
but  provided  with  neither  clothes  nor  weapons.  He 
came  to  the  city  called  Nob,  the  bishop  of  which  was 
Ahimelech,  a  son  of  Ahitub  the  bishop;  but  Ahitub  was 
the  son  of  Ichabod,  the  son  of  Phineas,  the  son  of  Eli 
the  bishop(When  David  came  to  the  bishop  Ahimelech,  ~> 
he  pretended  to  be  traveling  on  an  important  mission 
for  King  Saul,  and  asked  him  to  give  him  and  his  men 
something  to  eat  and  to  furnish  him  with  weapons.  The 
bishop  Ahimelech  gave  him  such  victuals  as  he  had,  but 
weapons  he  had  none  to  give  him  except  the  sword  that 
had  belonged  to  Goliath;  and  this  he  gave  him,  for  he 
did  not  know  that  he  was  a  fugitive,  but  believed  he 
was  traveling  on  the  king's  errand,  as  he  had  saidjBut 
so  fierce  was  Saul's  hatred  toward  David,  that  as  soon 
as  he  learned  that  the  bishop  Ahimelech  had  given  him 
food,  he  seized  the  bishop  and  all  his  kinsmen  and 
charged  them  with  treason.  The  bishop  replied  to  the 

*  Cf.  /  Samuel,  xix,  4-7. 


charge  in  this  wise:  "  My  lord,  I  confess  that  I  gave 
David  what  food  I  had  and  the  weapon  that  I  had,  for 
he  said  he  was  traveling  on  an  important  errand  on 
your  behalf.  Why  should  I  not  give  hospitality  to  a 
man  like  David,  who  is  the  best  and  the  most  highly 
esteemed  of  all  the  men  that  you  have  about  you  ex- 
cept your  sons,  and  who  is  furthermore  your  own  son- 
in-law  and  has  been  faithful  to  you  in  all  things  ?  Never 
have  I  had  any  design  against  you  or  your  honor.  Do 
not  think,  my  lord,  that  I,  your  servant,  have  plotted 
with  David  against  your  will;  I  could  not  know  why 
David  traveled  in  such  distress,  for  he  told  me  that 
you  had  sent  him  with  important  errands;  nor  did  I 
know  that  he  had  fallen  into  any  guilt  against  you." 
Then  Saul  replied  in  fierce  anger:  "  This  I  swear  that 
you  shall  perish  to-day,  you  and  all  your  kin."  There- 
upon he  caused  the  bishop  to  be  slain  along  with  eighty- 
five  other  men,  all  of  whom  were  robed  in  the  priestly 
dignity.  After  that  he  ordered  all  who  dwelt  in  the  city 
of  Nob  to  be  slain,  even  women  and  children,  and  had 
the  city  burned.* 

Now  I  have  revealed  to  you  the  ferocity  which  God 
found  in  Saul's  heart  when  he  removed  him  from  the 
kingship,  and  which  later  became  evident  in  what  you 
have  now  heard  and  in  much  else  of  like  import,  though 
I  have  told  this  only.  The  displeasure  which  the  king 
incurred  from  God  fell  so  heavily  upon  him,  for  the 
reason  that  God  saw  in  his  heart  the  fierce  avarice  which 
later  began  to  appear.  Now  he  wanted  to  kill  David, 

*  On  the  fate  of  Ahimelech  and  the  inhabitants  of  Nob,  cf .  /  Samuel,  xxi,  1-9 ; 
xxii,  9-19. 


though  innocent,  because  he  found  that  God  loved  him; 
and  he  slew  the  bishop,  though  guiltless,  and  so  fierce 
was  he  that  he  slew  everything  in  the  city  that  had  life 
and  afterward  burned  the  city.  But  where  God  had 
commanded  him  to  use  severity  of  this  sort,  there  he 
had  spared;  here,  however,  he  slew  God's  servants  in 
defiance  of  God's  command.  But  in  David's  case  God 
passed  a  more  lenient  judgment  for  the  reason  that, 
just  as  he  perceived  the  ferocity  in  Saul's  heart,  he 
found  true  repentance  and  clemency  in  David's  heart, 
as  I  shall  now  show  you. 

There  was  a  son  of  the  bishop  Ahimelech,  Abiathar 
by  name,  who  was  hid  in  a  cave  when  all  those  were 
slain  of  whom  I  have  just  spoken.  Abiathar  fled  to 
David  and  told  him  all  these  happenings.  But  when 
David  heard  these  tidings,  he  sighed  and  spoke  thus 
in  deep  sorrow:  "May  God  in  His  mercy  forgive  me 
for  this  slaughter,  for  I  have  too  great  a  share  in  it, 
having  eaten  your  father's  bread.  And' now  since  you 
have  come  hither,  abide  with  me;  and  if  God  permits 
me  to  live,  He  will  also  protect  you  with  me,  and  let 
whatever  God  wishes  happen  to  us  both."  Thereupon 
David  elevated  him  to  the  bishop's  office  which  his 
father  had  held.  But  when  David's  kinsmen  learned 
that  he  was  abiding  in  the  forest,  they  joined  him  with 
a  large  force  counting  not  fewer  than  four  hundred  men; 
and  from  that  time  on  David  grew  in  strength  as  God 
willed.*  He  camped  among  the  hills  with  this  force  and 
made  repeated  attacks  on  Saul's  enemies,  but  never  on 
the  king  himself  or  his  men.  But  whenever  Saul  learned 

*  /  Samuel,  xxii,  1-2,  20-23. 


where  David  lay  concealed,  he  marched  out  to  seek  him, 
intending  to  slay  him. 

Then  it  happened  once,  when  David  and  his  men 
were  hiding  in  a  large  cave,  that  Saul  entered  this  alone 
on  a  necessary  errand.  Then  said  David's  companions: 
"  Now  God  has  fulfilled  what  He  has  promised  you  and 
has  delivered  your  enemy  into  your  hands;  be  sure  to 
secure  this  quarry."  David  stole  up  and  cut  a  piece  off 
Saul's  mantle,  though  the  king  was  not  aware  of  it,  and 
returned  to  his  comrades.  Then  David's  companions 
said  to  him  :  "  If  you  are  unwilling  to  lay  your  own  hand 
upon  him,  let  us  kill  him."  David  replied:  "  My  crime 
would  be  as  great  before  God,  whether  I  do  it  myself 
or  bid  others  do  itf  God  keep  me  and  all  our  compan- 
ions  from  such  a  sin  as  to  lay  hands  upon  the  Lord's. 
anointed.  He  is  my  master  and  I  served  him  long;  he 
is  also  the  Lord's  anointed  and  it  would  be  a  great 
crime,  if  I  were  to  lay  hands  upon  him,  for  I  have  no 
revenge  to  take  either  for  father  or  brother  or  any  other 
kinsman  ;  nor  is  jtjas  if  he  had  taken  the  throne  which 
he^sits  upon  from  my  kinsmen  with  violence  OT  deceit; 
but  God  chose  him  to  it  and  sanctified  him  to  His  serv- 

ice, honoring  Jiin^J^hJS^oj^jg^me.  Wherefore  it  is 
right  that[_He  Who  appointed  him  to  thejdngship 
should  deprive  him  of  it  according  to  His  willjbut  not 
I  in  vengeful  audacity.  And  I  swear  this  day  that  God 
alone  shall  call  him,  whether  by  demanding  his  soul  or 
by  causing  him  to  fall  in  battle  before  his  enemies;  but 
as  for  my  hands,  they  shall  let  him  live  many  days.  But 
I  regret  deeply  that  I  injured  his  garment  if  he  shall 
feel  hurt  or  dishonored  because  of  it." 


,When  Saul  had  departed  and  returned  to  his  host, 
David  ran  up  on  a  hill  and  cried:  "My  lord,  King  Saul! 
can  you  hear  ?"  But  when  Saul  turned  to  hear  what  this 
man  said,  David  bent  both  knees  to  the  earth  and  bow- 
ing before  the  king  said  to  him:  "  Those  men  do  ill  who 
tell  you,  my  lord,  that  I  mean  to  be  your  enemy;  for 
now  I  have  evidence  here  in  my  hand  that  your  life  was 
in  my  power  to-day,  when  you  left  all  your  host  and  en- 
tered the  cave  alone;  and  it  was  no  less  in  my  power  to 
injure  your  life  than  your  clothes,  for  here  I  have  in  my 
hand  a  large  piece  of  the  skirt  of  your  mantle.  Now  let 
God  judge  between  us.  You  see  how  they  have  told 
lying  tales,  who  say  that  I  have  striven  after  your  life." 
Saul  appreciated  these  facts  fully,  for  David  spoke  the 
truth;  and  he  promised  that  he  would  nevermore  hate 
David.*  But  not  many  days  passed  before  Saul  went 
out  again  to  seek  David,  as  he  did  constantly  after  that. 
Now  it  came  to  pass  another  time,  when  Saul  had  made 
a  wearisome  journey  in  search  of  David,  that  sleep  came 
upon  the  king  and  all  his  host.  And  David  went  into 
the  camp  where  Saul  lay,  but  none  was  aware  of  it. 
The  man  who  accompanied  him  was  named  Abishai 
and  he  said  to  David:  "Now  you  can  see  that  God 
surely  intends  to  deliver  your  enemy  into  your  hands, 
and  it  is  not  advisable  to  refuse  what  God  Himself  offers 
you.  I  will  thrust  my  spear  through  him,  if  you  will 
permit  me,  and  then  we  shall  return  to  our  men."  David 
answered:  "  God  has  done  this  to  tempt  me  and  to  see 
whether  I  would  lay  my  hands  on  His  anointed.  Now  I 
must  answer  as  before,  that  God  shall  tear  the  kingship 

*  The  atory  of  David  and  Saul  at  En-gedi  is  told  in  I  Samuel,  xxiv. 


from  him,  either  by_jje^andmg.  Jiia^a 

as  ^  or 

shall  let  him  live  many  days;  for  I  have  no  revenge  to 
cherish  against  him,  either  for  plunder  or  for  the  loss  of 
kinsmen,  except  such  as  was  incurred  while  he  was 
cleansing  the  land  with  righteous  punishment;  and  it 
is  neither  my  proper  business  nor  that  of  anyone  else 
to  take  revenge  for  such;  for  it  is  a  more  serious  matter' 
than  even  a  wise  man  can  conceive  to  lay  hands  on  the 
Lord's  anointed,  who  is  dedicated  and  hallowed  to  God. 
Let  us  take  his  saddle-cup  and  his  spear  for  a  proof,  and 
then  let  us  return  to  our  forces."  * 

Now  you  will  understand  the  character  of  both  King 
Saul  and  David  from  what  I  have  just  told  you.  David 
knew  that  he  was  chosen  of  God  to  govern,  that  he  was 
the  Lord's  anointed,  consecrated  and  hallowed  to  God 
no  less  than  Saul  was.  He  also  knew  that  God  had  re- 
jected Saul.  And  God  delivered  Saul  into  David's  hands, 
so  that  he  could  have  taken  Saul's  life  at  any  time,  if 
he  had  wished.  David  showed  great  faithfulness  and 
humility  in  this,  that  every  time  he  saw  Saul,  he  bowed 
before  him  and  saluted  him  as  any  other  unhallowed 
layman  would,  who  had  not  been  set  apart  for  chieftain- 
ship. Although  Saul  lay  in  wait  for  his  life,  David  con- 
tinued to  serve  him,  and  worried  the  king's  enemies  as 
much  as  he  could.  On  the  other  hand,  Saul  had  nothing 
against  David  except  that  he  knew  God  had  chosen 
him  to  be  king;  and  he  showed  great  wickedness  and 
fierce  hatred  in  striving  to  slay  an  innocent  man,  one 
who  served  him  faithfully.  He  likewise  displayed  an 

*  Cf  .  /  Samuel,  xxvi. 


inordinate  vanity  in  wishing  to  make  away  with  a  man 
whom  God  Himself  had  chosen  to  rule  after  him.  For 
these  reasons  God  passed  a  severe  judgment  in  Saul's 
case;  for  He  saw  in  Saul's  heart  what  men  could  not 
perceive,  though  subsequently  God  made  this  fact  evi- 
dent to  the  sight  of  men.  But  in  David's  case  God  was 
more  lenient,  for  the  reason  that  He  found  him  always 
humble  and  faithful  in  everything,  as  He  made  clear  to 
men  later  on.  There  is  further  evidence  of  this  in  the 
fact,  that  as  soon  as  David  learned  that  Saul  and  his 
son  Jonathan  had  fallen,  he  and  all  his  host  lamented 
in  great  sorrow,  and  David  spoke  these  words:  "Be  ye 
cursed,  ye  mountains  of  Gilboa!  May  God  nevermore 
send  rain  or  dew  or  growing  grass  upon  you,  for  you 
led  King  Saul  and  his  son  Jonathan  along  treacherous 
paths  in  their  flight  across  your  summits  and  refused 
to  show  them  serviceable  highways,  whereby  they  could 
save  their  lives  from  the  hands  of  the  foeman;  nor  did 
you  provide  them  with  sheltering  ramparts  upon  your 
heights.  It  is  a  bitter  sorrow  for  all  the  people  of  Israel, 
that  splendid  chieftains  like  Saul  and  Jonathan  should 
pass  away  from  council  and  government./ferreat  strength 
and  power  have  perished  this  day,  when  such  excellent 
princes  are  fallen  as  Saul  and  Jonathan  were,  and  the 
many  good  knights  with  many  good  weapons  and  much 
good  armor  who  have  perished  with  them.JLet  the  lesser 
men  beware  of  God's  wrath,  since  He  has  allowed  the 
heathen  to  lay  hands  on  His  anointed.  Let  the  multi- 
tude bewail  a  loss  like  this,  that  such  excellent  rulers 
should  fall  before  the  heathen."  *  Such  words  and  many 

*  Cf.  David's  lament  in  II  Samuel,  i:  17-27.  The  author  has  made  but  slight 
use  of  David's  own  language. 


more  like  them  David  spoke  that  day,  and  thus  he 
lamented  their  death  rather  than  rejoiced  in  the  fact 
that  the  realm  had  fallen  to  him  and  into  his  keeping. 
From  this  you  will  observe  how  upright  he  was,  how 
honest  and  free  from  faults.  But  whenever  human  na- 
ture caused  him  to  fall  into  sin,  he  forthwith  showed 
keen  repentance,  imploring  God's  mercy  and  com- 
passion; and  God  gave  heed  at  once  to  his  honest  regret. 
Earlier  in  our  conversation  we  have  told  how  Ab- 
salom, King  David's  son,  raised  the  whole  land  in  re- 
volt against  his  father.  But  when  David's  captains 
happened  to  meet  Absalom  in  battle  and  David  learned 
of  his  death,  he  cried  out  in  these  words:  "  What  shall 
it  profit  me  to  live,  an  aged  man  who  grows  weaker  day 
by  day,  now  that  you,  my  son  Absalom,  are  dead  in  the 
flowertime  of  youth  ?  Would  to  God  that  I  could  die 
now  and  that  you  my  son  might  live!  "  *  David  was 
never  so  bitter  against  other  men  but  that  he  would 
rather  suffer  death  himself  than  see  another's  death, 
except  where  he  saw  that  punishment  was  inflicted  on 
the  demand  of  justice.  This  was  shown  again  at  one 
time  when  David's  entire  kingdom  incurred  the  wrath 
of  God,  and  a  pestilence  came  upon  the  realm,  so  violent 
that  people  perished  by  thousands.  When  the  plague 
approached  the  city  of  Jerusalem,  David  beheld  the 
angel,  who  was  smiting  the  people,  standing  between 
heaven  and  earth  with  a  blazing  sword.  And  when  he 
saw  the  angel  with  the  sword  lifted  as  if  ready  to  strike, 
he  placed  his  neck  under  the  edge  and  said:  "I  beg 
thee,  O  Lord,  that  this  sword  be  rather  turned  against 

*  Cf .  77  Samuel,  xviii,  33. 


my  neck  than  that  more  of  God's  people  shall  now  be 
slain,  and  that  my  Lord's  wrath  may  fall  upon  me,  who 
am  guilty  and  worthy  of  punishment,  and  upon  my 
family  rather  than  that  God's  people  shall  be  rooted 
out  on  my  account."  As  soon  as  God  saw  David's  regret 
and  heard  his  very  acceptable  prayer,  He  commanded 
the  angel  to  desist  from  slaying  the  people,  and  forth- 
with the  plague  ceased  everywhere  in  the  kingdom.* 

From  these  and  many  other  similar  instances  you 
will  now  observe  how  full  of  grace  and  goodness  David 
was  toward  all  men v  And  just  as  God  saw  kindliness, 
mercy,  and  humility  in  his  heart,  He  saw  avarice,  feroc- 
Jty,  and  unmeasured  pride  in  Saul's  heart;  consequently 
every  fault  was  graver  before  God  in  Saul's  case  than 
in  David's;  for  the  men  were  unlike.  David  was  the 
meekest  and  the  most  merciful  of  men,  and  whenever 
he  fell  into  any  fault  he  implored  God  to  spare  him;  but 
Saul  grew  fiercer  and  more  envious  the  more  sins  he  fell 
into  and  the  nearer  he  saw  God's  wrath  approaching. 
Now  if  you  think  that  these  answers  have  led  you  to 
a  clearer  understanding  of  the  matters  that  you  have 
asked  about,  I  believe  it  will  not  be  necessary  to  discuss 
these  subjects  any  further. 



Son.  I  see  clearly  now  from  what  you  told  in  your 
last  speech  that  the  judgments  were  lenient  in  David's 
case,  because  he  regretted  the  sins  into  which  he  fell, 

*  Cf .  II  Samuel,  xxiv. 


but  more  severe  in  Saul's  case,  because  he  was  less  dis- 
posed to  do  penance  for  his  misdeeds.  Now  there  are 
certain  other  matters  which  I  am  much  interested  in 
and  which  I  shall  ask  about  with  your  permission, 
namely  those  events  that  occurred  after  David's  death. 
Once  when  two  women  came  before  King  Solomon, 
quarreling  about  a  child,  the  king  ordered  the  child  to 
be  hewn  in  pieces  and  half  given  to  each  of  them :  *  now 
I  wish  to  ask  whether,  if  neither  of  the  women  had 
spoken  up,  the  king  would  have  hewn  the  child  asunder 
or  not. 

Father.  The  king  ordered  the  child  to  be  divided  be- 
cause he  knew  of  a  surety  that  the  one  who  was  the 
mother  would  not  be  willing  to  have  the  child  divided. 

Son.  I  asked  whether  the  king  would  have  divided 
the  child  if  the  mother  had  kept  silence. 

Father.  If  the  mother  had  been  so  void  of  mercy  that 
she  would  not  ask  him  to  spare  the  child,  the  king  would 
have  divided  it  between  them. 

Son.  Would  it  not  look  to  you  like  plain  murder,  if 
he  had  slain  an  innocent  child,  seeing  that  it  was  not  for 
punishment  ? 

Father.  It  would  indeed  have  been  murder  if  he  had 
killed  the  child ;  still,  the  guilt  would  not  have  been  with 
the  king  but  with  the  mother,  if  she  had  failed  to  beg 
mercy  for  her  child,  when  she  heard  the  king  render  a 
fair  judgment  in  their  case,  which  she  realized  would 
mean  the  child's  death;  therefore  the  guilt  would  be 
hers  if  she  withheld  the  motherly  pity  which  could  save 
the  child. 

*  See  /  Kings,  iii,  16-28. 


Son.  What  do  you  think  about  the  death  of  Joab  and 
Adonijah,  whom  King  Solomon  slew  ?/Was  that  a  right- 
eous judgment  or  not  ?  And  why  did  King  Solomon 
cause  Shimei  to  be  slain  for  cursing  his  father  David, 
seeing  that  David  had  already  forgiven  Shimei  this  , - 
offence  ?  S 

Father.  If  King  Solomon  had  done  this  except  as  law- 
ful punishment,  God  would  have  visited  him  with  a 
worthy  penalty  as  for  murder J  But  after  he  had  done 
all  this,  God  revealed  Himself  to  him  in  a  dream  and 
bade  him  choose  whatever  gift  he  might  wish.  But  Solo- 
mon asked  God  to  give  him  wisdom  and  insight  into 
righteous  judgments.  Then  God  answered  him  in  this 
wise:  "  If  this  choice  were  given  to  the  multitude,  there 
would  be  many  who  would  choose  riches  and  power,  or 
a  long  life,  or  peace,  or  success  in  warfare.  But  because 
thou  hast  chosen  this  thing,  thou  shalt  receive  what  thou 
hast  chosen  and  likewise  all  the  other  gifts  that  I  have 
enumerated."  From  this  you  will  observe  how  well  God 
is  pleased  with  righteousness  in  judgments;  for  God 
gave  Solomon  all  the  supreme  gifts,  because  he  chose 
equity  as  his  part.  And  you  will  understand  that,  if  he 
had  slain  those  others  unjustly,  God  would  not  have 
given  him  such  excellent  gifts  as  He  did  give  him. 



Son.  What  you  have  just  said  does  indeed  seem  rea- 
sonable. If  Solomon  had  been  led  to  execute  these  men 
through  selfishness  and  injustice,  he  would  not  have 
received  such  excellent  gifts  from  God,  as  were  given 


to  him  after  that  deed  was  done.  Still,  if  I  may,  I  should 
like  to  ask  you  to  point  out  how  righteous  dooms  are 
worked  out,  in  order  that  I  may  understand  more 
clearly,  and  others  too  who  may  hear  it,  how  Solomon 
could  execute  Shimei  by  righteous  decree,  when  his 
father  David  had  already  forgiven  him  the  offence.* 

Father.  Solomon  did  this  out  of  regard  for  justice 
rather  than  from  cruelty,  and  for  the  following  reasons. 
When  Shimei  cursed  David,  he  did  it  out  of  impudence 
and  malice,  and  for  no  just  cause;  but  when  he  begged 
David  for  mercy,  he  asked  it  more  because  of  fear  than 
of  repentance,  for  he  was  afraid  that  David  would  take 
his  life  as  the  sacred  law  demanded.  But  when  he  im- 
plored mercy  David  replied  in  these  words:  "I  shall 
not  slay  you  this  time,  since  you  implore  my  grace;  but 
keep  in  mind  that  you  will  be  punished  for  this  deed, 
unless  you  atone  in  true  repentance."  In  these  words 
David  pointed  out  to  Shimei  that  he  ought  to  atone 
with  loving  friendship  for  the  words  that  he  had  spoken 
in  sheer  hatred.  Shimei,  however,  lived  the  rest  of  his 
days  in  such  a  manner  that,  while  no  one  found  him 
to  cherish  enmity  toward  David,  it  never  appeared  that 
he  made  returns  in  friendship  for  David's  mercy  in  per- 
mitting him  to  live  when  the  law  demanded  his  death. 
But  when  he  came  before  Solomon  after  David's  death, 
the  king  said  to  him:  "Remember,  Shimei,  that  you 
cursed  the  Lord's  anointed;  and  it  has  not  appeared 
that  you  have  truly  regretted  it  since.  But  this  shall  be 
a  covenant  between  us  as  a  reminder  to  repentance  on 

*  The  story  of  Shimei  is  told  in  //  Samuel,  xvi,  5-8;  xix,  16-23;  I  Kings,  ii. 
8-9,  36-46. 


your  part,  that  you  shall  not  enjoy  such  complete  free- 
dom as  one  who  has  never  fallen  into  this  sin.  Now  you 
have  large  and  beautiful  dwellings  and  many  houses 
here  in  Jerusalem  and  you  may  live  in  peace  within  the 
city,  enjoying  all  your  possessions  according  to  your 
desire;  but  if  you  ever  go  outside  the  city,  the  punish- 
ment of  the  law  shall  come  upon  your  head,  since  you 
did  not  take  thought  to  repent  before  I  reminded  you." 
When  the  king  had  ceased  speaking,  Shimei  expressed 
himself  as  thankful  for  this  agreement  and  said  that  he 
should  find  but  little  inconvenience  in  being  forbidden 
to  leave  the  city,  if  he  might  remain  secure  in  the  king's 
friendship  within  the  city  and  enjoy  all  his  possessions. 
Three  years  later,  however,  Shimei  forgot  this  agree- 
ment and  went  outside  the  city  to  seek  diversion,*  as  if 
proud  of  his  audacity  in  violating  the  covenant.  But  as 
soon  as  these  tidings  were  told  to  the  king,  he  ordered 
Shimei  to  be  seized  and  brought  before  him,  and  he  said 
to  him:  "You  have  forgotten  to  be  ashamed  of  having 
broken  the  agreement  which  we  two  made  as  a  reminder 
that  you  owe  repentance  for  having  cursed  the  Lord's 
anointed.  There  is,  therefore,  a  double  guilt  upon  your 
head  now;  and  it  will  be  better  for  you  to  suffer  a  brief 
punishment  here,  so  that  others  may  be  warned  by  your 
misfortune,  than  that  this  crime  should  follow  you  into 
eternal  death,  and  others  become  bolder  in  such  evil,  if 
you  die  unpunished.  Then  the  king  ordered  him  to  be 
killed  and  buried  outside  the  city  as  a  reminder  and 
warning  to  others  never  to  break  a  covenant. 

*  According  to  the  Scriptural  story  Shimei  left  Jerusalem  to  bring  back  two 
runaway  servants.  I  Kings,  ii,  39-10. 




Son.  Now  I  wish  to  ask  you  why  Solomon  caused  his 
brother  Adonijah  to  be  put  to  death  for  requesting 
Abishag  to  be  his  wife. 

Father.  Adonijah  had  earlier,  as  you  may  have  heard, 
led  an  uprising  against  his  father.  When  David  had  be- 
come an  aged  man  and  was  very  decrepit  because  of  his 
many  years,  Adonijah  appointed  himself  to  be  king 
without  his  father's  knowledge,  and  made  a  festive 
banquet  as  newly  consecrated  king.  He  sent  heralds 
running  through  the  streets  with  pipes  and  drums  to 
proclaim  throughout  the  city  that  Adonijah  was  now 
the  king.  The  chief  men  who  were  with  him  in  this 
plot  were  Joab,  David's  chief  captain  and  his  kinsman, 
and  Abiathar  the  bishop,  and  many  other  lords.  But 
when  Zadoc  the  bishop,  Nathan  the  prophet,  Benaiah 
the  captain,  and  Bathsheba  the  queen  came  as  if  in 
deep  sorrow  to  tell  David  what  great  undertakings 
were  hidden  from  him,  he  remained  silent  for  some  time 
but  sighed  heavily.  At  last  he  spoke  as  from  a  heart  full 
of  grief  and  said:  "  My  sons  are  not  minded  like  me, 
for  I  served  King  Saul  many  days,  though  he  sought 
after  my  life.  And  yet  God  had  chosen  me  to  be  king, 
for  He  was  angry  with  King  Saul;  but  I  awaited  the 
judgment  of  God  by  which  he  would  be  deprived  of 
his  kingdom;  but  I  would  not  condemn  him,  though  he 
was  mine  adversary.  Now  my  son  has  done  that  to  me 
which  I  would  not  do  to  mine  enemy.  But  because 


Adonijah  has  taken  the  kingship  to  which  God  Himself 
appointed  me,  even  before  I  had  renounced  it  or  He 
Who  had  chosen  me  had  removed  me,  he  shall  fall  in 
disgrace  from  this  dignity,  as  that  one  fell  who  in 
arrogant  pride  raised  the  first  rebellion  against  his 

Then  David  said  to  Zadoc  the  bishop:  "Take  my 
mule  and  harness  him  with  all  the  accoutrements  with 
which  he  was  arrayed  when  I  rode  him  in  all  my  glory 
and  set  my  son  Solomon  upon  him;  iand  taking  Nathan ~J 
the  prophet  with  you  and  Benaiah  the  captain  and  all  ^ 
my  most  loyal  chiefs  and  knights,  ride  to  the  tabernacle  S 
of  the  Lord  in  Zion  *  and  there  anoint  my  son  Solomon^/ 
king.JThen  take  my  own  trumpet  and  let  it  be  sounded 
throughout  the  city  with  a  festive  sound  to  proclaim 
that  Solomon  is  king  by  the  will  of  God  and  David's 
choice.  After  that  you  shall  bring  my  son  Solomon  to 
me  that  I  may  welcome  the  newly  appointed  king  to  my 
throne."  When  David  had  ceased  speaking,  Zadoc  the 
bishop  did  all  those  things  that  the  king  had  com- 
manded. And  when  Solomon  returned  arrayed  in  all 
the  tokens  of  royalty,  David  rose  to  receive  him,  bowed 
before  him,  and  blessed  him  in  these  words:  "  Praise  be 
to  Thee,  O  God,  that  Thou  wert  pleased  to  exalt  me 
from  my  low  estate  to  such  high  honors  as  I  now  enjoy, 
and  hast  helped  me  in  many  perils,  and  now  after  much 
trouble  and  long  toil  hast  brought  me  the  consolation 
that  mine  eyes  should  behold  the  one  sprung  from  my 
loins  whom  Thou  hast  Thyself  chosen  to  sit  in  the  seat 
of  honor  to  which  Thou  didst  formerly  appoint  me,  ac- 

*  Error  for  Gihon. 


cording  to  Thy  promises,  O  Lord.  Now  I  pray  Thee,  O 
Lord,  give  this  young  man  David's  glory  and  under- 
standing in  double  and  threefold  measure,  make  him  a 
perfect  ruler  to  govern  Thy  holy  people  according  to 
Thy  will."  Then  David  kissed  Solomon  and  said  to  him: 
"  The  God  Who  rules  the  heavens  multiply  peace  to 
you  above  all  the  kings  upon  earth  and  give  you  bless- 
ings and  the  fruits  of  earth  and  perfect  happiness."  * 
When  he  had  ended  this  speech  and  benediction,  David 
said  to  Solomon:  "  Because  I  find  that  God  has  given 
you  wisdom  and  understanding.  jhnha.rprp  ynii  to  gnyern 
^gisely  and  justly,  though  somewhat  severely,  lest  the 
kingdom  should  seem  to  be  lacking  in  government  be- 
cause  of  vour  faint-h^t^Tipss  But  temper  the  severity 
of  punishment,  lest  you  be  thought  too  stern  and  merci- 
less. Remember  your  kinsman  Joab,  however,  who  has 
served  me  long  and  with  much  labor;  but  it  is  not  fitting 
that  the  sinful  deeds  which  he  has  committed  should 
follow  him  to  hell:  for  he  slew  two  excellent  captains 
who  were  in  my  peace,  Abner  and  Amasa,  who  had 
served  King  Saul  with  great  fidelity.  And  there  are 
many  others  whom  he  slew  in  his  overweening  pride, 
but  not  in  lawful  chastisement.  And  it  is  better  to  let 
him  suffer  a  brief  punishment  here  than  that  he  should 
be  lost  eternally  because  of  these  crimes.  Keep  also  my 
promise  to  Shimei,  though  he  cursed  me  when  I  fled 
from  the  violence  of  your  brother  Absalom;  but  keep 
it  in  such  a  way  that  he  will  be  reminded  to  do  penance 

*  On  the  subject  of  Adonijah's  rebellion  and  Solomon's  triumphant  accession 
see  /  Kings,  i.  The  author  has  used  little  more  than  the  outline  of  the  story 
as  given  in  the  Bible. 


fpr  his  misdeeds,  lest  the  curse  be  forever  upon  his  head 
which  he  incurred  when  he  cursed  me  an  innocent  man. 
Let  kinship  temper  your  wrath  against  your  brother 
Adonijah,  if  you  see  that  he  regrets  his  treasonable  up- 
rising against  his  father.  Remember  that  the  bishop 
Abiathar  lost  his  father  and  all  his  kinsmen,  because  he 
gave  me  food,  when  I  came  to  Nob  a  fugitive  from  the 
face  of  King  Saul.  Abiathar  deserves  well  for  this,  too, 
that  he  followed  me  and  bore  the  ark  of  God  before  me, 
when  I  fled  from  the  face  of  your  brother  Absalom.  But 
do  not  forget  to  give  him  a  reminder  to  repentance  for 
joining  your  brother  Adonijah  in  treasonable  designs 
against  me,  lest  this  offence  should  follow  him  to  his 
death.  Be  manly,  strong,  and  severe,  but  with  modera- 
tion. Do  the  will  of  God  in  all  things,  and  both  temporal 
and  eternal  joys  shall  be  added  to  you."  * 

Then  said  David  to  Zadoc  the  bishop  and  Nathan 
the  prophet:  "  Go  now  and  prepare  a  banquet  and 
lead  King  Solomon  into  my  hall  and  let  him  sit  in  my 
high-seat  amid  festive  joys."  And  they  did  everything 
as  David  bade  them.  But  when  Adonijah's  feast  was 
ended,  the  guests  heard  singing  and  piping  and  all  forms 
of  merriment,  as  if  a  new  joy  had  come  into  the  city. 
When  Adonijah  asked  what  the  merry-making  signi- 
fied, whether  the  rejoicing  was  in  his  honor  or  new 
tidings  had  come,  it  was  told  him  that  David  had  him- 
self given  Solomon  his  title  and  all  the  royal  honors  and 
had  chosen  him  to  be  king;  and  that  Solomon  was  al- 
ready hallowed  as  king  and  sitting  upon  David's  throne 

*  Cf.  I  Kings,  ii,  1-11.  In  the  Biblical  story  David's  charge  to  Solomon  comes 
after  the  day  of  Solomon's  accession,  and  not,  as  the  author  has  it,  during  the 


in  festive  raiment;  and  that  all  the  people  rejoiced  in 
the  news  as  on  a  merry  holiday.  When  Adonijah  heard 
this  report,  great  terror  came  upon  him  and  all  those 
who  were  with  him  in  this  conspiracy,  and  they  fled 
every  man  to  his  house.  But  Adonijah  fled  to  the  taber- 
nacle of  the  Lord  and  laid  his  hand  upon  the  sacred 
altar,  as  if  taking  vows  of  chastity  and  service  in  God's 
holy  tabernacle.  Thereupon  he  sent  a  man  to  the  king, 
saying:  "  Here  shall  I  die,  unless  my  lord  King  Solomon 
will  promise  and  assure  me  that  he  will  not  slay  me,  his 
servant,  for  the  evil  that  I  have  done."  Then  King 
Solomon  replied:  "  Adonijah  is  my  brother  by  kinship; 
therefore  I  will  gladly  spare  him,  if  he  will  show  true 
repentance  for  stirring  up  treason  and  rebellion  against 
his  father  David;  and  I  will  bear  this  burden  with  him 
before  God  on  the  condition  that  he  must  always  con- 
tinue loyal,  humble,  and  free  from  deceit.  But  if  any 
treasonable  ambitions  be  found  in  him,  he  may  expect 
a  swift  revenge  to  come  upon  his  head.  Let  him  now  go 
home  to  his  possessions  and  enjoy  them  as  long  as  he 
keeps  what  is  now  decreed."  * 

When  the  hour  of  David's  death  was  approaching, 
Solomon  frequently  visited  his  father;  and  when  the 
king  had  departed  this  life,  he  mourned  for  him  many 
days,  he  and  all  the  lords  in  the  kingdom;  and  he  buried 
him  with  every  form  of  royal  pomp  and  at  a  vast  out- 
lay. But  after  David's  death,  Adonijah  begged  Bath- 
sheba  the  queen  to  ask  King  Solomon  to  give  him 
Abishag  to  wife.  The  facts  respecting  Abishag  were 
these:  when  King  David  grew  old,  chills  entered  into 

*  Cf.  I  Kings,  i,  41-53. 


his  flesh,  so  that  clothes  were  not  sufficient  to  keep  him 
warm;  Abishag  was  a  young  virgin,  the  fairest  maid  in 
the  kingdom  and  of  the  best  and  noblest  family;  she 
was  brought  to  King  David's  bed  to  lie  close  to  him 
and  warm  him  and  cherish  him,  in  the  hope  that  the 
king  might  draw  warmth  from  her  soft  and  blossoming 
form  and  from  his  desire  for  the  fair  virgin.  David  loved 
her  highly  with  a  perfect  affection,  but  as  a  foster- 
mother,  not  as  a  wife.  And  for  this  reason  Abishag  won 
such  great  honor  that  she  came  to  be  regarded  as  the 
first  queen  and  she  ranked  above  all  the  other  queens 
in  the  eyes  of  the  people;  and  thus  her  dignity  was  sanc- 
tified by  David's  embraces.  But  Adonijah  had  a  purpose 
in  seeking  this  marriage  after  David's  decease,  for  he 
hoped  in  this  way  to  obtain  the  kingship  by  deceitful 
intrigue;  inasmuch  as  all  the  people  would  say,  if  he 
married  Abishag,  that  he  was  most  worthy  to  sit  on 
David's  throne  who  was  most  worthy  to  mount  his  bed 
and  lie  in  the  arms  which  David  had  hallowed  with  his 
very  self.  He  also  presumed,  as  seemed  reasonable,  that 
the  brothers  and  all  the  kinsmen  of  Abishag  would 
rather  have  him  as  king,  if  she  were  his,  than  a  man 
who  was  not  bound  to  them  in  this  way.  Queen  Bath- 
sheba  undertook  Adonijah's  errand  and  afterwards  went 
to  seek  an  interview  with  her  son  King  Solomon.  As  soon 
as  she  had  entered  the  royal  hall,  the  king  rose  to  meet 
his  mother  and  led  her  to  a  seat  at  his  side.  Then  the 
queen  revealed  her  errand,  speaking  thus:  "I  have  a 
little  favor  to  ask  of  you,  but  I  will  not  reveal  the  request 
before  you  promise  to  grant  it."  The  king  replied :  "  You  7 
are  my  mother,  and  I  cannot  refuse  what  you  wish  to  5 


ask;  and  I  surely  intend  that  you  shall  have  what  you 
have  come  to  ask  for.  But  it  surely  behooves  you  to 
keep  in  mind  that  you  should  ask  only  for  what  I  may 
freely  grant."  Then  said  Bathsheba  the  queen  to  the 
king:  "  I  have  come  to  ask  you  to  give  your  brother 
Adonijah  Abishag  to  wife." 

Then  King  Solomon  replied  in  great  wrath:  "  What 
is  at  the  bottom  of  this  request  that  Abishag  be  given 
to  Adonijah  ?  If  you  prefer  that  he  should  have  the 
kingship  rather  than  I,  then  ask  the  kingdom  for  him; 
for  you  know  that  my  brother  Adonijah  is  older  than  I 
and  once  assumed  the  royal  title,  being  chosen  by  the 
chief  lords  before  my  father  had  appointed  me  to  be 
ruler  in  obedience  to  the  will  of  God.  Joab  the  most 
powerful  of  the  lords  and  captains  and  Abiathar  the 
bishop  have  evidently  continued  plotting  with  him  even 
to  this  day.  Abishag  is  of  the  noblest  kinship  in  the  city 
and  the  whole  realm;  furthermore,  she  is  honored  by  all 
as  the  first  queen  because  of  the  care  that  she  gave  my 
father  in  his  old  age.  If  she  is  given  to  Adonijah  to  be 
his  wife,  the  people  will  regard  him  as  most  worthy  to 
sit  in  David's  seat,  since  he  is  thought  worthy  to  lie  in 
the  bed  and  in  the  arms  in  which  David  himself  lay. 
Now  when  Adonijah  had  committed  treason  against  his 
father,  I  offered  to  share  the  responsibility  for  his  sin 
before  God  because  of  our  kinship.  But  now  he  has  re- 
peated and  trebled  the  treason  against  me,  his  brother, 
which  he  first  committed  against  his  father.  Therefore 
I  swear  by  the  God  Who  has  placed  me  on  David's 
throne  that  Adonijah  shall  suffer  for  his  guilt,  as  shall 
every  one  of  the  others  who  are  with  him  in  this  traitor- 


ous  project."  Then  King  Solomon  said  to  Benaiah  the 
captain :  "  Go  and  slay  my  brother  Adonijah,  for  I  would 
rather  have  him  suffer  a  swift  penalty  here,  such  as  the 
rules  of  the  holy  law  provide  for  treason  against  one's 
lord,  than  to  have  him  carry  a  traitor's  guilt  to  hell, 
also  Joab  my  kinsman,  for  twice  he  committed  vile 
j  offences  against  King  David,  when  he  slew  Abner  and 
J     Amasa,  two  renowned  captains,  though  they  were  in 
C     David's  peace  and  protection^ But  his  third  and  greatest 
crime  is  this,  that  he  was  traitor  to  David  when  he  gave 
Adonijah  the  royal  title;  surely  he  will  be  lost  forever  in 
the  world  to  come,  unless  he  shall  do  penance  in  this 
world  by  suffering  a  lawful  punishment." 

In  this  case  King  Solomon  gives  clear  proof  that  it  is 
quite  permissible  to  break  vows  and  promises,  if  what 
has  been  asked  or  granted  is  contrary  to  what  is  right. 
He  granted  what  his  mother  Bathsheba  the  queen  had 
come  to  request  before  he  knew  what  it  was;  but  as  soon 
as  he  was  aware  that  the  prayer  was  a  perilous  one,  he 
slew  the  man  who  had  originally  made  the  request. 
Benaiah  did  as  King  Solomon  commanded  and  slew 
Adonijah.  But  just  as  Joab  the  captain  and  Abiathar 
the  bishop  had  shared  in  the  plans  to  give  Adonijah  the 
royal  title,  they  also  had  a  share  in  his  plan  to  ask  for 
Abishag  to  wife;  and  when  they  heard  of  Adonijah's 
death,  they  foresaw  their  own  destruction.  Benaiah 
seized  Abiathar  the  bishop  and  led  him  before  King 
Solomon;  but  Joab  fled  to  God's  tabernacle  and  laid  his 
hand  upon  the  sacred  horn  of  the  altar,  as  if  taking  vows 
of  chastity  and  service  in  God's  holy  tabernacle.  Benaiah 

*  Cf.  /  Kings,  ii,  13  ff. 


came  to  God's  sanctuary  and  said:  "  Come  forth,  Joab, 
the  king  commands  you  to  come  forth  out  of  God's 
tabernacle."  But  Joab  replied:  "I  have  come  hither 
into  God's  protection,  and  I  will  suffer  death  here,  if  I 
cannot  remain  in  security."  Then  Benaiah  reported  his 
answer  to  the  king  through  his  messenger;  and  when  the 
messenger  came  before  the  king  bringing  the  bishop 
Abiathar  and  related  all  these  things,  King  Solomon 
said  to  him:  "  Give  my  command  to  Benaiah  to  slay 
Joab  wherever  he  be  found,  for  his  deeds  and  the  de- 
crees of  the  sacred  law  slay  him  and  not  we."  Benaiah 
did  as  King  Solomon  commanded  and  slew  Joab  where 
he  then  stood.* 

But  the  king  spoke  in  this  wise  to  the  bishop  Abia- 
thar: "  You  know  that  you  have  deserved  death  accord- 
ing to  the  rules  of  the  holy  law;  but  whereas  you  lost 
your  father  and  all  your  kinsmen  in  Nob  in  a  single  day, 
because  your  father  had  given  my  father  David  food, 
and  whereas  you  also  bore  the  ark  of  God  before  my 
father  when  he  fled  before  the  face  of  my  brother  Ab- 
salom, therefore  it  is  right  that  for  once  you  should 
profit  from  this  and  not  suffer  a  sudden  death.  And  for 
this  once  you  shall  purchase  your  life  on  the  following 
terms,  which  you  must  keep  as  a  constant  reminder 
that  you  owe  penance  for  the  treason  which  you  com- 
mitted against  David:  go  now  to  your  own  fields  and 
abide  there  as  a  husbandman  and  enjoy  all  your  pos- 
sessions, on  the  condition,  however,  that  you  remain  a 
tiller  of  the  soil.  But  if  you  ever  stretch  forth  your  hand 
to  perform  any  priestly  service  or  office,  the  righteous 

*  Cf.  7  Kings,  ii,  28-34. 


penalty  of  the  sacred  law  shall  surely  come  upon  your 
head."  *  Abiathar  went  home  and  did  as  the  king  com- 
manded and  lived  many  days;  but  Shimei  died  three 
years  later,  because  he  failed  to  keep  what  had  been 
commanded,  as  we  have  already  told. 



Son.  There  are  still  a  few  points  which,  it  seems  to 
me,  I  have  not  examined  sufficiently.  How  did  it  occur 
to  Solomon  to  break  peace  with  Joab,  seeing  that  he 
had  fled  into  God's  protection  and  into  the  house,  the 
only  one  in  all  the  world,  that  was  dedicated  to  God  ? 
Churches  have  now^been  built^  in  almost^  every  part  of 
the  world,  and  it  is  considered  an  evil  deed  to  slay  a  man 
who  has  sought  sanctuary.  But  I  have  thought  that  the 
honor  of  God's  holy  house  would  be  the  more  zealously 
guarded  the  fewer  such  houses  were.  Another  matter 
which  I  wish  to  ask  about  is  this:  how  did  it  occur  to 
Solomon  to  promise  what  his  mother  might  request  and 
then  to  break  his  promise  ?  I  should  have  thought  that 
a  wise  man  like  Solomon  would  have  ascertained  what 
the  request  was  likely  to  be  before  he  gave  his  promise, 
and  thus  avoid  recalling  his  promise,  if  the  request  were 
not  to  his  liking. 

Father.  I  stated  in  an  earlier  speech  that  he  who 
makes  a  request  should  be  discreet  and  ask  such  things 
only  as  are  proper  and  may  be  freely  granted;  and  all 

*  Cf.  /  King,,  ii,  26-27. 


those  favors  that  are  wisely  asked  and  granted  in  like 
manner  ought  to  remain  valid  and  undisturbed.  But 
Solomon  set  a  good  and  profitable  example  in  this  case, 
when  he  wisely  withdrew  the  gift  that  his  mother  had 
indiscreetly  requested,  though  he  had  already  granted 
it.  The  following  example  which  is  evil  and  belongs  to 
a  much  later  date  was  set  by  Herod:  once  when  he  was 
feasting  in  Galilee  he  promised  to  give  his  step-daughter 
whatever  she  might  ask;  and  on  her  mother's  advice  she 
demanded  the  head  of  John  the  Baptist.*  Herod  knew 
that  John  was  an  innocent  and  holy  man  and  deeply 
regretted  that  he  had  made  this  promise.  But  his  re- 
pentance bore  no  fruit,  inasmuch  as  he  was  not  careful 
to  withdraw  the  gift  wisely  which  she  had  requested 
foolishly;  nay  more,  he  did  the  evil  deed  that  she  had 
suggested.  Consequently  all  were  destroyed,  the  women 
because  of  their  request  and  Herod  because  of  his  gift. 
King  Solomon,  however,  thought  it  better  to  face  his 
mother's  wrathful  temper  for  refusing  wisely  what  he 
had  promised  hastily,  than  to  suffer  the  injury  that 
follows  the  great  crime  of  allowing  foolish  and  sinful 
petitions.  On  the  other  hand,  you  should  understand 
clearly  that  it  is  never  proper  for  a  man  to  be  fickle  in 
promises,  and  the  greater  the  man,  the  less  fitting  it  is. 
But  no  man  is  allowed  to  ^rant  anything  that  may 
give  rise  to  crime  and  sin,  even  though  lie  has  already 
promised  to  Ho  so. 

*  Cf.  Matthew  xiv,  1-12;  Mark,  vi,  16-29. 




Son.  Now  I  wish  to  ask  you  to  tell  me  somewhat  more 
clearly  how  far  one  should  keep  what  he  has  pledged 
and  how  far  he  may  refuse  to  carry  out  what  he  has 

Father.  When  a  lord  is  asked  to  grant  a  favor  and 
the  meaning  of  the  request  is  made  clear  to  him,  he 
wight  toj>ojicler  carefully ^wEat  itJstnatEe  is  asked  to 
dp  and  whether  it  will  brin^  him  injury  or  honor.  If  he 
sees  that  he  can  grant  it  without  damage  to  himself,  he 
ought  next  to  consider  the  person  to  whom  he  is  to  give 
what  has  been  asked,  and  how  much  may  be  given  in 
each  case,  lest  he  should  have  an  experience  like  that  of 
Herod,  which  has  already  been  related.  For  Herod  did 
not  consider  fully  the  merits  of  the  one  who  made  the 
request,  or  the  occasion,  or  how  much  he  ought  to  give. 
There  was  this  difficulty,  too,  in  Herod's  case,  that  he 
was  drunk  when  he  made  the  promise;  he  had  made  a 
great  banquet  for  all  his  lords,  and  he  failed  to  consider 
the  occasion;  for  it  was  not  proper  for  him  to  make  gifts 
while  drunk,  since  one  who  is  drunk  will  rarely  be  mod- 
erate  in  making  gifts  .^fre  also  failed  to  observe  modera- 
tionjn  this,  that  he  gave  such  an  unusual  gift  to  his 
step-daughter,  a  woman  who  was  not  of  his  kin,  for  he 
spoke  in  these  terms:  "  Whatsoever  you  ask  I  will  give 
you,  though  you  ask  hah*  of  my  kingdom.'^ You  will 
observe  from  this  that  he  was  half -mad  from  drink  when 
he  spoke,  for  his  step-daughter  had  honored  him  merely 


by  beating  the  drum  before  him,  and  her  music  was  en- 
titled to  a  much  smaller  reward  than  the  one  promised. 
Nor  was  it  fitting  for  him  to  leave  the  form  of  the  re- 
quest as  well  as  of  the  gift  to  the  tongues  of  others,  as 
he  did  when  he  spoke  as  follows:  "  Whatsoever  you  ask 
you  shall  have,  though  you  ask  half  of  my  kingdom." 
But  if  he  had  spoken  in  this  wise  :L_Wh ate ver  you  ask 
with  discretion  and  in  moderation  you  shall  receive,  if 
I  can  give  it,' Mpen  he  would  have  spoken  wisely  and 
well,  and  it  would  have  remained  with  him  whether  to 
grant  or  to  refuse. 

It  now  remains  to  point  out  what  sort  of  gifts  a  ruler 
may  properly  give,  when  he  is  asked  to  do  so.bVny  re- 
quest may  be  granted  which  will  bring  honor  and  help 
to  him  who  asks  and  will  bring  no  damage  to  the  lord 
who  gives  or  to  any  one  elsej^Thus  if  a  lord  is  asked  to 
give  assistance  or  money,  he  may  well  give  it,  unless 
his  honor  should  be  discredited  by  the  gift;  and  he  may 
properly  give  both  the  labor  and  the  money  so  long  as 
he  gives  them  to  such  as  are  worthy  of  great  honors. 
But  when  one  is  asked  to  grant  a  request  that  would 
debase  or  dishonor  him,  he  must  refuse  it;  and  even 
though  he  should  make  a  promise  thoughtlessly,  it  is 
to  be  wisely  withdrawn.  And  if  a  man  bestows  a  gener- 
ous  gift,  on  one  who  shows  little  appreciation  of  it  and 
is  in  no  wise  worthy  to  have  a  long  and_continued  pos- 
session of  an  important  gift,  inasmuch  as  he  does  not 

show  proper  appreciation,  this  gift,  too,  should  be  with- 
drawn; for  in  this  case  the  man's  own  thoughtlessness 
and  lack  of  discernment  take  the  gift  from  him  and  not 
the  fickleness  of  him  who  gave.  And  if  one  who  desired 



a  gift  has  obtained  it  through  falsehood  and  deceitful 
pretence,  that  gift  is  also  to  be  withdrawn,  even  though 
it  has  been  granted;  and  in  this  case  the  man's  own  frn.ur) 
and  deceit  take  the  ffif t  from  him  and  not  the  fickleness 
of  him  who  promised  and  gave  it.  But  a  prince  who 
means  to  be  cautious  in  making  gifts  must  consider 
carefully  what  is  requested,  and  what  sort  of  man  has 
made  the  request.  And  since  all  do  not  deserve  equally 
great  gifts,  one  must  consider  how  great  a  gift  each 
one  deserves  and  on  what  occasion  a  gift  may  be  given. 
Then  it  shall  be  said  but  very  seldom  that  he  who  gave 
has  withdrawn  his  gift  or  that  he  has  been  found  to  be 



Son.  Now  I  wish  to  ask  what  good  reasons  there  are 
which  would  justify  King  Solomon's  act  hi  causing  Joab 
to  be  slain  in  God's  holy  tabernacle  while  he  was  cling- 
ing to  God's  sacred  altar.  Why  did  he  not  order  him  to 
be  brought  away  first  and  slain  afterwards  ? 

Father.  The  matter  about  which  you  have  now  in- 
quired cannot  be  made  clear  without  a  lengthy  expla- 
nation, which  will  seem  more  like  a  comment  than  a 
proper  continuation  of  the  conversation  in  which  we 
are  now  engaged.  When  Solomon  concluded  that  it  was 
better  to  slay  Joab  where  he  then  was  than  to  bring 
him  away,  he  was  not  without  good  grounds  for  his 
decision;  for  he  did  not  wish  to  fall  into  such  a  sin  as 
King  Saul  fell  into  when  he  brought  sacrifices  to  God's 


holy  altar.  Now  Solomon  did  not  wish  to  make  this  a 
pretext  that  he  intended  to  bring  gifts  or  sacrifices  to 
God's  holy  altar,  as  if  he  were  carrying  out  episcopal 
functions;  nor  did  he  wish  to  take  away  by  force  or 
violence  anything  that  had  come  so  near  God's  holy 
altar  as  Joab  then  was,  inasmuch  as  he  was  clinging  to 
the  sacred  altar.  But  Solomon  pondered  the  whole  mat- 
ter in  his  own  mind  :/^  It  is  my  duty  to  carry  out  the 
provisions  of  the  sacred  law,  no  matter  where  the  man 
happens  to  be  whose  case  is  to  be  determined;  but  it  is 
not  my  duty  to  remove  a  man  by  force  or  violence  who 
has  fled  to  the  holy  place;  for  all  just  decisions  are  in 
truth  God's  decisions  and  not  mine.  [And  I  know  of.  a 
surety  that  God's  holy  altar  will  not  be  defiled  or  dese- 
crated by  Joab's  blood,  for  it  will  be  shed  in  righteous 
punishment  and  as  a  penance  for  him,  but  not  in  hatred 
as  in  the  case  of  an  unjust  verdict."  In  this  decision 
King  Solomon  illustrated  the  division  of  duties  that 
God  made  between  Moses  and  Aaron;  and  he  did  not 
wish  to  disturb  this  arrangement,  lest  he  should  fall 
into  disfavor  with  God.  /For  God  had  marked  out  their 
duties  in  such  a  way  that  Moses  was  to  watch  over  the 
rules  of  the  holy  law,  while  Aaron  was  to  care  for  the 
sacrifices  that  might  come  to  the  sacred  altarj  And_ 

YOU  Shall  knOW  Of  a  truth  that   %'ff 

by  right  to  stand  even  at  this  day:  and  you  may  be 
able  to  see  this  more  clearly,  if  I  add  a  few  words  in 
explanation.  For  the  reason  is  this,  that  God  has  estab- 
lished two  houses  upon  earth,  each  chosen  for  a_defimie 
service.  The  one  is  the  church;  in  fact  we  may  give  this 

*  See  Exodus,  xxviii. 


name  to  both,  if  we  like,  for  the  word   church  means 

the  same  as  judgment  hall,  because  there  the  people 

meet  and  assemble.  These  two  houses  are  the  halls  of 

God,  and  He  has  appointed  two  men  to  keep  watch 

over  them.  In  one  of  these  halls  He  h^a  pjarpr!  TTk 

table,  and  this  is  called  the  house  of  bread;  for  there 

God's  people  gather  to  receive  spiritual  food.  But  in  the 

^      ,       other  hall  He  hasplaced  His  holy  judgment  seat;  and 

'  there^  the  people  assemble  to  hear  the  interpretation 

""C  °1  God's  holy  verdicts/ And  God  has  appointed  two 

<   keepers  to  guard  these  nouses:  the  one  is  the  king,  the 

C  other  the  bishpjg.  J 

Now  the  king  is  appointed  to  keep  watch  over  the 
sacred  house  in  which  the  holy  seat  is  placed  and  to 
keep  the  holy  verdicts  of  God.  In  temporal  matters  he 
is  to  judge  between  men  and  in  such  .a  way .  thatjthe  - 
reward  of  etern^sajvationj^ 

all  others  who  after  his  day  uphold  the  decisions  that 
have  been  justly  rendered.  Into  his  hands  God  has  also 
committed  the  sword  of  punishment  with  which  to 
strike  when  the  need  arises,  just  as  King  Solomon  did 
when  he  laid  Joab  under  the  sword  of  chastisement, 
with  many  others  whom  he  subjected  to  righteous  pen- 
alties, as  we  have  already  told.  The  king,  then,  must 
always  strike,  not  in  hatred  but  for  righteous  punish- 
ment. But  if  he  slay  any  one  out  of  hatred,  it  is  murder, 
and  he  will  have  to  answer  for  it  as  murder  before  God. 
You  shall  also  know  of  a  truth  that  no  one  is  allowed  to  \ 
pluck  away  any  of  those  things  that  God  from  the  be- 
ginning has  assigned  to  His  hall  and  high-seat;  for  that  / 
would  be  to  rob  God  Himself  and  His  holy  judgmeny 


seat  and  to  disturb  arrogantly;  the  arrangement  which 
God  has  made.  And  every  one  who  is  assigned  to  this 
seat  should  ponder  in  deep  thought  what  plea  he  shall 
have  to  present  when  he  comes  before  his  own  Judge; 
for  every  man  who  comes  in  his  turn  before  the  Highest 
Judge,  having  been  steward  in  His  hall,  may  confidently 
expect  Him  to  employ  some  mode  of  address  like  the 
following:  "  Thou  bearest  Mine  own  name,  forjjthou  art 
both  king  and  judge  as  I  am;  therefore  I  demand  that 
thou  render  account  for  thy  stewardship,  inasmuch  as 
thou  art  the  appointed  judge  and  leader  of  My  people/^J 
Wherefore  each  one  will  need  to  prepare  after  long  re- 
flection and  with  great  care  what  he  is  to  reply  when 
he  comes  before  the  Judge.  If  the  archangel,  in  whom 
there  is  no  sign  of  weakness,  gives  his  answer  with  fear 
and  trembling,  when  he  is  called  upon  to  render  account 
for  his  services  to  our  Lord  and  King,  one  can  imagine 
what  fear  and  trembling  will  come  upon  a  frail  and  sin- 
ful man,  when  he  is  asked  to  render  account  for  his 
stewardship  in  the  presence  of  God.  But  he  who  has 
had  this  hall  in  his  keeping  will  first  of  all  be  asked  how 
he  has  dealt  out  justice  among  men;  and  if  he  is  unable 
to  give  a  satisfactory  account,  he  may  expect  to  hear 
this  sentence:  "  Thou  wicked  thrall,  since  thou  hast  not 
observed  justice  in  thy  verdicts,  thou  shalt  fare  thither 
where  all  verdicts  are  evil;  for  thine  own  mouth  has 
assigned  thee  to  this  place,  inasmuch  as  it  was  not 
ashamed  to  deliver  dishonest  judgments."  But  if  he 
can  defend  the  justice  of  his  decisions  with  good  rea- 
sons, he  shall  find  joy  in  his  stewardship  and  hear  these 


words:  "  Inasmuch  as  thou  hast  always  observed  equity 
as  a  judge,  it  is  fitting  that  thou  shouldst  enjoy  a  right- 
eous verdict  on  every  count."  He  will  then  bejiaked 
further  on  what  some ^.of^hi^actions^j^ere ^  based;  and 
.-it'ter  th:;t  h»-  will  have  to  -how  how  <ii>creeUy  and  care- 
fully he  has  kept  all  those  things  which  God. in  the  be- 
ginning committed  to  this  judgment  seat.  But  if  he  has 
not  kept  all  those  things  which  God  in  the  beginning 
assigned  to  the  holy  seat  of  judgment,  he  will  be  brought 
face  to  face  with  those  who  have  done  their  duty  well, 
such  as  Melchisedek  or  Moses  or  David  or  others  who 
have  observed  these  things  as  faithfully  as  those  named. 
Then  he  will  hear  these  words  spoken :  "  If  thou  hadst 
been  as  thoughtful  and  solicitous  as  these  were  in  main- 
taining the  honors  which  I  joined  in  the  beginning  to 
My  holy  judgment  seat,  thou  wouldst  have  received 
the  same  rewards  as  these  enjoy.  But  now  thou  shalt 
be  deprived  of  an  honor  here  as  great  as  the  honor  which 
thou  didst  take  without  right  from  My  judgment  seat; 
and  to  that  degree  shalt  thou  be  regarded  less  in  worth 
and  merit  than  those  who  have  kept  these  honors  un- 
impaired which  I  entrusted  to  them.  When  thou  wert 
given  charge  of  My  judgment  seat, fit  was  not  intended 
that  thou  shouldst  have  power  to  dispose  of  services, 
honors,  and  holy  dignities  in  a  manner  different  from 
the  one  that  I  established  in  the  beginning.Jj?or  this 
office  was  not  given  thee  as  an  everlasting  inheritance, 
but  it  was  committed  to  thee  for  a  time  only,  that  thou 
mightest  obtain  an  eternal  reward,  if  thou  didst  guard  it 
faithfully,  jfhou  wert  given  power  to  distribute  worldly 


riches,  gold  and  silver,  though  with  discretion^  but  not 
to  dispose  of  the  honors  and  glories  of  My  holy  judg- 

But  if  it  is  found  that  he  has  been  discreet  in  his 
charge,  he  shall  have  cause  to  rejoice  in  his  stewardship; 
he  will,  however,  be  examined  in  various  lines.  Jle  will  be 
asked  how  he  has  used  the  rod  of  punishment  which  was 
given  into  his  hands;  and  it  is  very  important  that  justice 
shall  have^een  Strictly  observed  in  penalties,  lest  it  go 
so  ill  with  him  as  with  King  Saul,  who  failed  to  inflict 
a  just  penalty  which  God  had  commanded  him  to  exe- 
cute on  the  people  who  dwelt  in  Amalek,  but  slew  un- 
justly the  bishop  Ahimelech  and  all  the  priests  in  Nob. 
But  if  it  should  go  so  ill  with  him  who  is  thus  called  to 
account  for  penalties  inflicted,  that  he  is  found  to  have 
stumbled  in  matters  like  those  just  mentioned  and  in 
which  King  Saul  fell,  he  will  soon  hear  these  words: 
"  Lead  him  yonder  where  King  Saul  and  Herod  and 
Nero  and  others  like  them  abide,  and  let  him  dwell 
there  with  them,  seeing  that  he  wished  to  be  like  them 
in  cruelty."  Still,  if  in  some  cases  he  has  been  merciful 
in  sentence  and  punishment  and  if  there  is  good  reason 
why  he  should  escape  the  reproaches  that  we  have  just 
mentioned,  those  facts  will  not  be  forgotten.  For  then 
he  shall  find  happiness  in  all  his  stewardship  and  very 
soon  shall  hear  this  greeting:  "  Thou  art  welcome,  thou 
faithful  servant  and  good  friend,  for  thou  hast  loyally 
kept  a  slight  temporal  dignity;  now  thou  shalt  come  into 
joyful  possession  of  a  great  honor,  constant  and  ever- 
lasting, wholly  free  from  sorrow  and  danger."  Happy 
is  he  who  is  permitted  to  hear  these  words;  but  wretched 


is  he  who  shall  hear  those  words  of  wrath  which  we 
quoted  earlier.  But  no  one  needs  to  doubt  that  every- 
one who  shall  be  called  to  account  for  his  office  and 
stewardship  will  be  addressed  in  one  of  these  two  ways. 



Son.  I  see  clearly  that  one  who  is  to  watch  over  the 
rules  of  the  sacred  law  and  deal  out  justice  in  all  cases 
is  surely  assigned  a  very  difficult  task.  It  is  also  evident 
that  King  Solomon  could  not  be  called  to  account  for 
having  Joab  slain  in  God's  tabernacle,  inasmuch  as  he 
slew  him  for  a  just  punishment,  not  out  of  enmity  or  in 
hatred,  as  Cain  slew  his  brother  Abel.  God's  tabernacle 
was  not  defiled  by  Joab's  blood,  seeing  that  it  was  not 
shed  in  hatred;  but  the  earth  was  defiled  by  Abel's 
blood,  because  it  was  shed  in  hatred.  And  I  understand 
fully  that  the  sin  and  the  desecration  are  caused  by  the 
hatred  and  not  by  the  punishment.  But  now  you  have 
spoken  of  two  halls  which  God  has  dedicated  to  His 
service  upon  earth,  and  there  are  certain  things  that 
concern  these  about  which  I  wish  to  inquire.  You  have 
stated  that  in  one  of  them  God  has  placed  His  judgment 
seat;  you  have  discussed  that  and  also  the  office  of  him 
who  is  in  charge  of  it.  You  have  also  said  that  in  the 
other  hall  is  God's  table,  from  which  all  God's  people 
shall  take  spiritual  food;  and  you  added  that  the  bishop 
has  been  appointed  keeper  of  this  hall.  Now  I  wish 
to  ask  you  why  King  Solomon  removed  Abiathar  the 


bishop  from  the  office  that  had  been  assigned  to  him. 
namely  that  of  keeper  of  the  hall  to  which  I  have  just 
referred,  and  removed  him  so  completely  that  he  was 
never  afterwards  allowed  to  put  forth  his  hand  to  the 
episcopal  office,  but  was  to  live  from  that  time  on  as  a 
churl  or  a  plowboy.  But  I  have  thought  that  neither 
of  these  two  keepers  can  have  authority  to  remove  the 
other  from  the  office  which_hasjbeen [committed  to  him. 
Therefore  I  should  like  to  have  you  point  out  a  few 
considerations  which  will  make  clear  how  King  Solomon 
could  remove  the  bishop  Abiathar  from  his  office  with- 
out incurring  reproof  from  God. 

Father.  I  called  your  attention  to  these  facts  to  re- 
mind you  that  both  these  halls  are  God's  houses  and 
both  king  and  bishop  the  servants  of  God  and  keepers 
of  these  houses;  but  they  ^Q  no^^wn^.hem  in  the  sense 
that  they  can  take  anything  away  from  them  that  was 
assigned  to  them  in  the  beginning.  Therefore  the  king 
must  not  pluck  anything  away  from  the  house  which 
the  bishop  has  in  his  keeping,  for  neither  should  rob 
the  other.  And  there  should  be  no  plundering  of  one  by 
the  other,  but  each  ought  to  support  the  other  for  the 
same  One  owns  both  houses,  namely  God.  I  have  also 
told  you  that  God  has  given  the  rod  of  punishment  into 
the  hands  of  both  the  king  and  the  bishop  ./The  rod  of 
punishment  that  has  been  committed  to  the  king  is  a 
two-edged  sword :  with  this  sword  it  is  his  duty  to  smite 
to  the  death  everyone  who  tries  to  take  anything  away 
from  the  sacred  hall  of  which  he  is  the  guardianT/But 

e  king's  sword  is  two-edged  for  the  reason  that  it  is 
also  his  duty  to  guard  the  house  which  is  in  the  bishop's 


(,  keepingDif  the  bishop  is  unable  to  defend  it  with  his 
own  rod  of  punishment.  The  bishop  shall  have  his  rod 
of  punishment  in  his  mouth,  and  he  shall  smite  with 
words  but  not  with  hands  like  the  king.  And  the  bishop 
shall  strike  his  blow  in  the  following  manner:  if  any  one 
attempt  to  dishonor  the  sacred  hall  that  is  in  his  care, 
he  shall  refuse  him  the  table  which  is  placed  in  this  holy 
house  and  the  holy  sustenance  which  is  taken  from  this 
table.  But  when  King  Solomon  deprived  Abiathar  the 
bishop  of  the  episcopal  office  and  dignity,  he  said  t ha. t. 
Abiathar's  own  guilt  deprived  him  and  not  he(  Since  he 
had  decreed  that  David  should  forfeit  his  throne  before 
God  had  ordered  it,  and  had  chosen  another  king  to 
replace  David,  while  he  was  still  living,  it  was  right  to 
deprive  him  of  the  episcopal  office,  seeing  that  he  wanted 
to  rob  David  of  the  royal  office.  {Saul's  guilt,  on  the 
other  hand,  when  he  had  slain  the  bishop  Ahimelech 
and  all  the  priests  in  the  city  of  Nob,  was  a  grievous 
burden,  because  he  had  done  this  without  just  cause. 
But  even  if  King  Solomon  should  have  killed  the  bishop 
Abiathar,  he  would  have  been  without  guilt;  for  the 
bishop  had  deprived  the  house  of  God  of  the  lord  whom 
God  Himself  had  appointed  keeper  of  the  holy  judg- 
ment seat.  The  bishop  Abiathar  had  no  right  either  to 
appoint  or  to  remove  any  one, as  was  later  made  evident; 
for  David  chose  the  one  whom  he  wished  to  be  king  in 
his  stead,  and  the  choice  which  Abiathar  had  made  was 
of  no  effect.  Abiathar  the  bishop  obtained  the  episcopal 
office  through  the  will  of  David  who  appointed  him  to 
it.  Now  you  are  to  understand  that  there  is  this  differ- 
ence between  the  business  of  a  king  and  the  duties  of  a 


bishop  :  the  bishop  is  appointed  to  be  the  king's  teacher, 
counsellor,  and  guide,  while  the  king  is  appointed  to  be 

a  judge  and  a  man  of  severity  in  matters  of  punishment, 

to  the  great  terror  of  all  who  are  subject  to  him.  Never- 

theless, the  bishop  wields  a  rod  of  punishment  as  well 

/  as  the  king.  There  is  this  difference,  howrever,  between 

I     the  king's  sword  and  that  of  the  bishop,  that  the  king's 

\  sword  always  bites  when  one  strikes  with  it,  and  bites 

\to  great  injury  W7hen  it  is  used  without  right,  while  it 

/serves  him  well  whom  it  may  strike  when  it  is  rightfully 

/    used.  But  the  bishop's  sword  bites  only  when  it  is  used 

(       rightfully;  when  it  is  wrongfully  used,  it  injures  him 

V    who  smites  with  it,  not  him  who  is  stricken. 

pishop  strikes  rightfully,  however,  his  sword  wounds 
even  more  deeply  than  the  king's.  But  this  subject  we 
shall  discuss  more  fully  at  some  other  time,  if  it  is 
thought  advisable. 



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AARON,   high   priest  in  Israel, 

280,  284,  358. 
Abbot,  294,  325. 
Abel,  330, 363. 

Abiathar,  Hebrew  priest,  46,  47, 
333,  344,  347,  351-353,  363- 

Abiram,  Hebrew  rebel,  279,  283. 
Abishag,  David's  wife,  344,  348- 


Abishai,  David's  companion,  335. 
Abner,    Hebrew    captain,    346, 

Absalom,  David's  son,  325,  338, 

346,  347. 

Acrifolium  (aquifolium),  107. 
Adam,  252-257,  261,  266-273. 
Adam  von  Bremen,  19  note. 
"  Address    to    the    Norwegian 
People,"  King  Sverre's,  39^-6, 
49,  58,  59. 
Adonijah,  David's  son,  46,  64, 

Agag,  king  of  Amalek,  326. 
Ahasuerus,   Persian   king,   237- 

240,  244. 
Ahimelech,  Hebrew  priest,  331- 

333,  362,  365. 
Albertus      Magnus,      medieval 

schoolman,  2. 
Ale  springs,  134. 

Alexander    Neckam,    medieval 
scientist,  12, 18. 


Alfonso  the  Wise,  Spanish  king, 

Amalek,    Amalekites,    52,    279, 

283,  319,  325,  326, 362. 
Amasa,  Hebrew  captain,  346,351. 
Amorites,  319, 326. 
Andenes,  headland  in  Lofoten, 


Angels,  261-263,  309,  338,  360. 
Ant,  Habits  of  the,  92. 
Apples,    St.    Kevin's,    113;     of 

knowledge,     252,     253,     255, 


Apulia,  Southern  Italy,  96,  97. 
Arctic,  Marvels  of  the,  21,  105, 

119-126, 135-141. 
Armor,  217-220. 
Arnamagnean  collection,  65,  68. 
Artaxerxes,  Persian  king,  237. 
Arthurian  legends,  2,  3. 
Asp,  serpent  in  Paradise,  264. 
Athens,  309,  310, 312. 
Augustine,  Saint,  40. 
Aura,  172. 

BACON,  Roger,  medieval  scien- 
tist, 2. 

Balances  of  justice,  The,  306, 

Baleen  whale,  120. 

Basking  sharks,  122  note. 

Bathsheba,  Uriah's  wife,  323- 
325,  344,  348-351;  see  Uriah. 



Beaked  whale,  120, 123. 

Beams  used  in  warfare,  216,  224, 

Beard,  how  trimmed  and  worn 

at  court,  182. 
Bearded  seal,  140. 
Bears  in  Greenland,  143. 
Beasts,  Instincts  of,  91,  92,  111, 

Bede,    medieval    writer,    5,    16 

note,   18,   20,   147  note,   257 

Beluga,   a   sort   of   whale,    120 

Benaiah,  Hebrew  captain,  344, 

345,  351,  352. 
Bengjerd    (Berengaria),   Danish 

queen,  31. 
Bergen,  26, 46. 
Bernard,  Saint,  257  note. 
Bethany,  Hebrew  town,  289. 
Bethlehem,  Hebrew  town,  329. 
Birchshanks,    anti-clerical    fac- 
tion in  Norway,  37,  52,  61, 

63,  64. 
Birds,    Joy    of,    at    coming    of 

spring,  90,  91. 
Birger,  Swedish  earl,  4,  30. 
Birka,    old    Swedish   town,    82 

Bishops,  Political  claims  of,  36- 

38,  55; 

hostile  to  the  monarchy,  40, 


subordinate  to  the  king,  174, 

authority  of,  358,  359,  363- 


mention   of,    117,    178,    241, 

280,  281,  291,  294,  325,  326, 
331,  344,  345. 

Bjarkey  code,  a  municipal  law, 

Bjarkudal  bog,  Norwegian  mar- 
vel, 104. 

Blandina  (Slieve  Bloom  moun- 
tains in  Iceland),  107. 

Blom,  Otto,  Captain  hi  Danish 
artillery,  32,  62,  63. 

Blood  fine,  61. 

Blubber  cutters,  119. 

"  Bluemen  "  (negroes),  30. 

Bornhoved,  Battle  of,  3. 

Brattices,  222. 

Breastplate,  219. 

Breeches  for  mounted  warriors, 

Breeding,  Good,  227-229. 

Brendan,  Irish  saint,  125  note. 

Brenner,  Otto,  editor  of  Specu- 
lum Regale,  69. 

"Briar,"  weapon  for  defense,  223. 

British  Isles,  29. 

Broadax,  215. 

CAAING  whale,  119. 

Caesar,  Christ's  submission  to, 
43,  248,  249. 

Cain,  330, 363. 

Caltrop,  device  used  in  warfare, 

Cap,  hat,  or  coif,  When  not  to 
wear  a,  182, 184,  227. 

Capella,  Martianus,  encyclope- 
dist, 5, 147  note. 

Cassiodorus,  encyclopedist,  5. 

Castles,  Weapons  for  attacking 
or  defending,  220-226. 



Cat,  siege  engine,  221,  222. 

Chansons  de  geste,  2. 

Cherubim,  270. 

Chess,  83,  228. 

Christiania,  68. 

Christiania  edition  of  the  King's 

Mirror,  62,  68,  69,  71. 
Christina,   Norwegian   princess, 


Christopher,  Danish  king,  30. 
Church,  The,  relation  of,  to  the 

monarchy,    35-38,    55,    357- 


ambitions  of,  36,  37; 

opposed  by  King  Sverre,  40. 
Clausson,      Peder,      Norwegian 

writer,  65. 

Climate  of  Iceland  and  Green- 
land,   15,   96,  143,  148,   149, 


of  Ireland,  23,  24, 105,  106; 

affected    by    changes    in    the 

sun's  course,  96-99. 
Cloena      (Clonmacnois),     Irish 

borough,  116,  117. 
Clothes,  181,  182,  219,  227,  254, 


Coal,  Use  of,  in  warfare,  215. 
Cologne,  28. 
Conduct,   Rules  of,  80-83,  85, 

182-189,  205-211,  227,  228. 
Constantine,  240-244. 
Conversation,  Rules  governing, 

186-191,  209,  210,  227. 
Copenhagen,  66,  67,  68. 
"  Corse  seal,"  139. 
Cosmas,    Egyptian    monk    and 

writer,  18  note. 
Court,  The  royal,  customs  of, 

73,   173,   176-179,   183,   208- 


promotion  at,  169; 

fashions  at,  18 1-186; 

speech   and   conversation   at, 

186, 187; 

habits  suitable  to  life  at,  208- 

Courtesy,    Rules    of,    11,    227, 

228;  see  court. 

Crafts  and  professions,  73,  78. 
Craton,  Roman  philosopher,  242- 


Crossbow,  215,  220. 
Croziermen,  clerical  faction  in 

Norway,  37,  38,  54,  56. 
Crusades,    Importance    of,    for 

the  spread  of  culture,  27,  32, 

Culture  in  the  medieval  North, 

Curtain,  a  type  of  fortification, 

Cyrus,  237. 

DAAE,  Ludvig,  Norwegian  his- 
torian, 44,  57,  62. 

Dagmar  (Dragomir),  Danish 
queen,  31. 

Dante,  49. 

Dart,  215. 

Dathan,  Hebrew  rebel,  279, 

David,  king  of  Israel,  42,  46,  52, 
249,  275,  276,  278,  281,  284, 
290,  291,  317,  320-342,  344- 

Dearth  and  failure  of  crops  and 
morals,  33, 193-204. 



Death  penalty,  318-321. 

Defens&r  Pads,  49. 

De  Monarchia,  49. 

Denmark,  3, 30, 38, 67. 

Dialogs  of  Gregory  the  Great, 

127, 130. 

Dice,  Warning  against,  83,  228. 
Diermicius,  Irish  saint,  111. 
Dirk,  219. 

Disciplina  Clericalis,  9, 10,  26. 
Disobedience,    Sin    of,    52,    53, 

325, 326. 
Divine   right   of   kings,   41-45, 

49,  59,  246-250,  357,  358,  360, 


Dooms,  see  judgments  and  pen- 
Dorph,  Chr.,  translator  of  the 

King's  Mirror,  70  note. 
Dragons,  103. 
Drunkenness,  Warning  against, 

83,  207,  210. 

EARTH,  Shape  and  constitution 

of  the,   12-15,  97,   128,   148, 

Earthquakes,  17, 18,  20,  21,  126, 

Egypt,  235,  236,  240,  243,  279, 

Einersen,  Halfdan,  editor  of  the 

King's  Mirror,  66,  67. 
Elgesseter,  Monastery  of,  48,  52, 


Elks,  29. 
Ell,  119  note. 
Eluddarium,   10,   75  note,   131 

Embassies,  29-31,  172, 177, 178. 

Emmanuel,  see  Manuel. 

Encyclopedists,  5, 6. 

England,  2,  29, 58. 

Erichsen,  Jon,  Icelandic  scholar, 
61, 67,  70. 

Erik,  Swedish  duke,  65  note. 

"  Erken-seal,"  139. 

Erling  Skakke,  Norwegian  mag- 
nate, 36. 

Esquimaux,  79  note. 

Esther,  queen  of  Persia,  238, 
239,  244. 

Ethical  ideas  of  the  King's 
Mirror,  11,  77,  78,  80-83,  85, 
205-207,  213,  214,  228-234. 

Etna,  Mount,  17. 

Eve,  the  first  woman,  252-255, 

Excommunication,  38,  40,  365, 

Eystein,  Norwegian  archbishop, 
36,  38,  46. 

FALCONS,  31, 144. 

Faroes,  4,  37. 

Finns,  79  note,  173  note. 

Finsen,  Hans,  Icelandic  bishop, 

61,  66,  67. 
Fire,  Source  of,  129. 
"  Fish  driver,"  a  sort  of  whale, 

120, 121. 

Fishes,  Instincts  of,  90. 
Flemish  towns,  2. 
"  Flett  seal,"  139. 
Flom,  G.  T.,  editor  of  the  King's 

Mirror,  25  note,  69,  70. 
France  (and  French),  26,  28,  39, 

Frederick  II,  emperor,  30,  44. 



GALILEE,  354. 

Gambison,    defensive   covering, 

212,  217-219. 
Gardar,   diocese   in   Greenland, 

145  note. 

Garth,  King's,  167. 
Geelmuyden,  Hans,  Norwegian 

astronomer,  59. 
"  Gelts,"  116. 
Geography  of  the  King's  Mirror , 


Germany,  27,  28, 33, 182. 
Gests,    a    higher    class    in    the 

king's  guard,  170, 171. 
Geysers,  21, 128, 130, 131. 
Giraldus  Cambrensis,  medieval 

writer,  22-24,  104  note,  106- 

110  notes. 

Gjerset,Knut,  historian,  168  note. 
Glaciers,  21, 130, 131, 151. 
Glass,     molten,     for    defensive 

warfare,  224. 
Glosses,  272-278. 
Glumelaga  (Glendalough),  Irish 

abbey,  112. 
Goliath,  329. 
Gota  River,  30. 
Grampus,  119, 120. 
Greenland,  Geography  and  cli- 
mate of,  4,  15,  16,  138,  139, 


northern   lights   in,    18,    146, 


whales  in  the  waters  of,  18, 


marvels  of,  21,  101,  105,  135- 


products    and    resources    of, 

142-145, 149. 

Greenland  sharks,  122. 
Greenland  whale,  123, 124. 
Gregory  the  Great,  17,  40,  127, 


Gregory  VII,  36. 
Grosseteste,  English  bishop,  257 

Guardsmen,  King's,  6,  26,  176; 

see  kingsmen,   hirdmen,   and 


HAIR,  how  trimmed  and  worn 

at  court,  182. 
Hakon  IV,  Norwegian  king,  4, 6, 

22,  29-35, 48, 57, 58, 60, 64, 65. 
Hakon  V,  Norwegian  king,  65 

note.  . 

Hakon' s  Saga,  30. 
Halberd,  215. 
Halogaland,  district  in  northern 

Norway,  59,  98,  99. 
Haman,  magnate  at  the  Persian 

court,  238-240,  245. 
Hamburg,  36. 
Hand  sling,  213, 221. 
Hansa,  the  German,  2, 27. 
Hares  in  Greenland,  143. 
Harold  Gilchrist  (Gille),  34, 37. 
Hauberk,  219. 

Hawks,  29,  297,  298;  see  falcons. 
Headward,  171. 
Heavenly  bodies,  Course  of  the, 

11,83,86;  see  sun  and  moon. 
Hebrides,  4. 
Hebron,  321. 
"  Hedgehog,"  defensive  weapon, 

222,  223. 
Heffermehl,    A.  V.,    Norwegian 

writer,  39  note,  57, 62. 



Helena,  mother  of  Constantine, 

241,  244. 

Hell,  place  of  cold  and  heat,  131. 
Helmet,  219. 

Henry  III,  English  king,  29,  58. 
Herod,   Jewish    king,    354-356, 

Hertzberg,     Ebbe,     Norwegian 

historian,  36  note. 
Hezekiah,  king   of    Juda,   288, 


Hirdmen,  Honored  position   of, 

171, 174-176; 

duties  of,  177; 

habits  and  diversions  of,  207- 


Historia  Scholastica,  6, 10. 
Hiterdale,  place  in  Iceland,  134. 
"  Hog  whale,"  120, 123. 
Holar,  town  in  Iceland,  66. 
Holly,  holm,  107. 
Holstein,  27. 
Holy  Spirit,  Office  and  gifts  of 

the,  275,  292,  294. 
Honorius    of   Autun,    medieval 

theologian,   10,  75  note,   131 

note,  147  note. 
Horn  bow,  220. 
Horse,  Equipment  of  the,  in  war, 

217,  218. 

"Horse  whale,"  122, 123. 
Housecarlefine,  169, 171. 
Housecarles,  King's,  167,  170- 


Household,  The  king's,  organi- 
zation and  customs  of,  11,  26, 


how    to    gain    admission    to, 


Houses,   God's   two,   on   earth, 

358-360, 363,  364. 
Hudson,  Henry,  136  note. 
Hugh   of   St.   Victor,  medieval 

theologian,  257  note. 
Humpback,  a  sort  of  whale,  123. 
Hundred,  The  two  reckonings 

of,  94. 

Hungary,  33. 
Husbandmen,  6, 73, 92,  291. 

ICEBERGS,   ice  floes,   101,  126, 

138, 139. 
Iceland,  Norwegian  colony,  4; 

climate  of,  15,  96, 126; 

marvels  of,  21, 101, 126-134; 

volcanic  fires  in,  17,  126-131; 

geysers  in,  128; 

mineral  springs  in,  134. 
Idols,  Worship  of,  189. 
Illinois,  University  of,  69. 
India,  11, 101, 102,  244. 
Inge,  Norwegian  king,  46,  58. 
Ingeborg,   Swedish  duchess,  65 

Inhisgluer    (Inishglory),    island 

in  Ireland,  108. 
Inisclodran,   island   in   Ireland, 


Innocent  III,  38, 45. 
Interdict,  38. 

"  Invisible  Society,"  The,  66. 
Ireland,  Norwegian  colony  in,  4, 


marvels  of,  11,  23, 101, 106- 


climate    and    inhabitants    of, 

105,  106. 
Irish  Nennius,  24. 



Iron  ore  found  in  Iceland,  134. 
Isaiah,    Hebrew    prophet,   288, 

Ishbosheth,  king  of  Israel,  320, 

Isidore  of  Seville,  encyclopedist, 

5, 13, 15  note,  18, 147. 
Island,  Floating,  107, 108; 

where   bodies   cannot   decay, 

108,  109; 

where  none  can  die,  109; 

occupied  by  demons,  109,  110; 

where  no  female  is  allowed, 

Israel,  Land  and  people  of,  46, 

238,  239,  279,  280,  286, 317. 
Italian  cities,  2. 
Ivar  Bodde,  Norwegian  priest, 

57-59, 62. 

JAVELINS,  215. 

Jericho,  279, 283. 

Jerome,  Saint,  40. 

Jerusalem,  96,  97, 166,  338. 

Jesse,  father  of  King  David,  329. 

Jesus    Christ    recognized    king- 
ship, 42, 43,  247-249; 
showed  mercy  to  the  woman 
taken  in  adultery,  281,  282; 
forgave  Peter  and  the  thief  on 
the  cross,  282; 
raised  Lazarus,  289. 

Jesus,  son  of  Sirach,  Hebrew 
writer,  303. 

Joab,  Hebrew  captain,  47,  48, 
64,  341,  344,  346,  350-353, 
357-359,  363. 

Job,  132, 133. 

John,  Norwegian  archbishop,  46. 

John  the  Baptist,  354. 
John,  English  king,  29, 58. 
John  of  Paris,  medieval  writer,  49. 
Joint  kingship,  Theory  and  evils 

of,    33-35,    60,    63,    198-201, 

203  note. 

Jonah,  Hebrew  prophet,  287. 
Jonathan,  Saul's  son,  330. 
Joseph,  235,  236,  240,  243,  244. 
Joshua,  Hebrew  chieftain,  279. 
Judas,  279,  284,  285. 
Judgments  of  God  to  serve  as 

examples,  251-258,  277-289; 

of  a  king  at  times  to  be  lenient 

and  at  times  severe,  251,  259, 


diverse  character  of,  283-285; 

reasons   for   modifying,   285- 


of    a    king    to    be    carefully 

thought  out,  304-313; 

king's  responsibility  for,  363- 


of  the  bishops,  364-366. 
Justice,  divine  virgin,  252,  254, 

256-259,  278,  279,  281,  283, 

285,  287,  324, 328. 
Justin,  priest,  309-312. 

KERTINAGH,  island  in  Ireland, 
109, 110. 

Kevinus,  Irish  saint,  112, 113. 

Keyser,  Rudolf,  Norwegian  his- 
torian, 6  note,  68. 

King,  The,  authority  and  power 
of,  35,  40-45,  52,  75,  174,  175, 
relation  of,  to  the  church,  35, 



holds  his  title  from  God,  40- 


judicial  duties   of,   114,   115, 

251,  290,  304-308,  314,  358- 


customs    to   be   observed   in 

presence    of,     179-192,    227, 


cap   and   mantle    not   to   be 

worn  in  presence  of,  182, 184- 


rules  of  speech  in  presence  of, 


if  unwise  or  young  may  bring 

ruin  upon  the  land,  197-203; 

diversions  of,   208,  209,  297, 


business  of,  during  the  day, 

246,  250,  298; 

to  give  thought  to  the  realm 

at  night,  250; 

needs  to  be  well  informed,  251 ; 

prayer  of,  290-296; 

should  attend  the  services  of 

the  church,  290,  297; 

should  meditate  on  the  source 

of  wisdom,  299. 

King's    Crag,    Norwegian    bor- 
ough, 30. 

Kingship,  Joint,  see  joint  king- 
Kingship,  Norwegian  theory  of, 

33-35, 39-44. 
Kingsmen,  78, 79, 85, 164; 

advantages  of  being,  167-172, 


classes  of,  170-173, 176; 

how  to  become,  179-184. 

duties  of,  207-213. 

King's  Mirror,  The,  plan  and 

purpose  of,  6-8, 72-76; 

author  of,  8,  9,  54-60,  77,  79; 

relation  of,  to  other  works,  8- 


scientific   notions    of,    11-21, 

83,87,    91-99,   126-132,   145, 


date  of  composition  of,  32, 35, 


political  theories  of,  39-48; 

ethical  and  theological  ideas 

of,  49-52; 

modern  characteristics  of,  53, 


place  of  composition  of,  59, 


manuscripts  of,  65, 66, 68-70; 

editions  and  translations  of, 


mention  of,  39,  44,  46-49,  52- 


see  Speculum  Regale. 
Kiranus,  Irish  saint,  117. 
Klefsan,  Irish  clown,  118. 
Knee  pieces,  219. 
Knights,  178, 322. 
Knowledge,   Tree  of,  252,  253, 

255,  264,  265. 
Kongespegelen,  70. 
Kraken,  The,  22, 125. 

LADDERS,  Scaling,  221,  225. 

Lakes,  Miracle  working,  106- 

Landedmen,  holders  of  fiefs  in 
Norway,  172, 175. 

Langton,  Stephen,  English  arch- 
bishop, 257  note. 



Languages,  Study  of,  encouraged, 

Latin  language,  Importance  of 

the,  39,  54,  81. 
Law,  Study  of,  81. 
Lawrence,  Saint,  309-313. 
Lazarus,  289. 

Lead,  Molten,  useful  in  defen- 
sive warfare,  224. 
Leap  year,  94. 
Levites,  51. 

Liberal  arts,  The  seven,  303. 
Licentiousness,   to   be   avoided, 

83,  206,  228. 

Lightning,  Source  of,  129. 
Lofoten,  59,  98  note. 
Logechag  (Lough  Neagh  ?),  lake 

in  Ireland,  106, 107. 
Logherne  (Lough  Erne  or  Lough 

Owel),  lake  in  Ireland,   109, 

Logri  (Loch  Cre  or  Loch  Ree), 

lake  in  Ireland,  109,  111. 
Longbow,  215. 
Louis  IX,  French  king,  31. 
Low  Countries,  28. 
Loycha,  lake   in    Ireland,   107, 


Lucifer,  259,  262-268,  271. 
Lund  ,Swedish  cathedral  town,36 . 

MACROBIUS,  15,  147  note,  154 

Magnus     Bareleg,     Norwegian 

king,  34. 
Magnus  the  Blind,  Norwegian 

king,  34. 
Magnus  Erlingsson,  Norwegian 

king,  36,  37,  55. 

Magnus  Lawmender,  Norwegian 

king,  44,  61. 
Magnussen,  Arne,  antiquarian, 


Mail  hose,  219. 
Mainz,  28. 
Man,  Isle  of,  4,  22. 
Manners,  Personal,  32,  164-166, 

169,    173,  176-187,  192,  193, 


see  also  court,  household,  and 

Mantle,  When  not  to  wear  a, 

181, 182, 184-186,  227. 
Manuel    Comnenus,    Byzantine 

emperor,  60, 101  note. 
Marble  in  Greenland,  144. 
Mark,   measure   of   value,    168 

note,  172. 
Marsiglio    of   Padua,    medieval 

political  theorist,  49. 
Martianus  Capella,  see  Capella. 
Marvels,  see  Arctic,  Greenland, 

Iceland,   India,   Ireland,   and 


Mary,  The  Virgin,  85. 
Matthew,   an   envoy   from   the 

imperial  court,  30. 
Matthew  Paris,  English  monk 

and  historian,  31. 
Melchisedek,  361. 
Merchants  and  the  mercantile 

profession,  6,  11,  28,  73,  78, 

79-86,  92-94, 163,  164,  173. 
Mercy,  divine  virgin,  252,  254, 

256-259,   279-281,   283,   285, 

287,  324,  328. 
Meregarto,    German    poem,    19 




Mermaid,  22, 136, 137. 
Merman,  22, 135, 136. 
Meyer,  Kuno,  25,  109  note,  116 

note,  117  note. 
Military  art  and  engines,  11,  32, 

62,  63,  211-226. 
Mineral  springs  in  Iceland,  21, 

134, 135. 

Mines  in  warfare,  225. 
Minorities,  35,  60,  197,  203  note. 
"  Mirrors  of  Princes,"  7  note. 
Missiles  used  in  warfare,   224, 

Monsters,    101,    105,    110,    115, 

125, 135-137. 
Moon,  The,  and  its  influence  on 

the  ocean,  92-94,  300. 
Mordecai,  Hebrew  magnate  at 

the   Persian   court,    238-240, 


More,  Norwegian  shire,  104. 
Moses,  51,  52,  280,  281,  283,  285 

-287, 290, 317,  318,  358,  361. 
Munch,    Peter    Andreas,    Nor- 
wegian historian,  68. 
Minister,  107  note. 

NAMDALEN,  district  in  Norway, 
9  note,  59,  60. 

Nansen,  Fridtjof,  20,  21. 

Narwhal,  122, 123. 

Nathan,  Hebrew  prophet,  322, 
324,  328,  344,  345,  347. 

Natural  History  of  the  Elder 
Pliny,  18. 

Navigation,  Rules  and  informa- 
tion relating  to,  83-85,  90, 
100, 156-162. 

Nero,  362. 

Nibelungs,  Tales  of  the,  3. 
Nicholas  Petersson,  Norwegian 

bishop,  46. 

Nicholas    Saemundarson,    Nor- 
wegian abbot,  28  note. 
Nidaros,    9   note,   36,   48;     see 

Night  and  day,  Changes  of,  94, 

98, 104. 
Nineveh,  287. 
Nob,  city  in  Israel,  331, 332, 347, 

352,  362, 365. 
Nordland,  northern  Norway,  98 

Northern  lights,  18, 19,  101, 146, 

Norway,  Colonies  of,  4; 

literature    of,  in   the  middle 

ages,  4-6; 

marvels  of,  18, 19,  21,  99-101, 


trade  of,  29; 

factional  warfare  in,  35, 52; 

mention   of,   28,   59,   65,   68, 

138  note. 

OCCAM,       William,      medieval 

schoolman,  49. 
Olaf,  Norwegian  saint  and  king, 


Ordeal,  Harold  Gilchrist's,  34. 
"  Ore  marvel  "  in  Iceland,  134. 
Orkneys,  4. 
Ostenta,  ostensa,  minutes  of  time, 

16,  20,  95. 

PARADISE,  252, 255,  261,  263. 
Parmenides  of  Ela,  15  note. 
Patrick,  Saint,  110  note,  115. 



Paul,  Norwegian  bishop,  46. 

Paul,  Saint,  275. 

Peace,  divine  virgin,  252,  254, 

256-259,   279-281,   283,   285, 

Peasants,  yeomen,  73,  78,  172, 

174;  see  husbandmen. 
Penalties,    318-322,    324,    325, 

327,  328. 
Penance,  Theory  of,  51,  52,  318, 

319, 321,  343,  346. 
Pens,  Soren,  Icelandic  merchant, 


Persia,  244  note. 
Peter,  Saint,  42,  248,  249,  282, 

284,  285. 

Peter,  Skule's  son,  48. 
Petrifying  waters,  104,  105,  107, 


Petrus  Alfonsus,  9,  26. 
Petrus  Comestor,  6, 10. 
Pharaoh,  236,  244,  278,  283,  305. 
Philistines,  329. 
Pilgrims  and  pilgrimages,  3,  19, 

27,  28. 

Pitch,  Use  of,  in  defensive  war- 
fare, 225. 

Pliny  the  Elder,  18. 
Plural      and     singular     terms, 

Proper  use  of,  187-190. 
Polo,  Marco,  2. 
Pope,  175,  241,  294. 
Porpoise,  119. 
Portugal,  31. 
"Praise    of    Divine    Wisdom," 

Alexander  Neckam's,  12. 
Prester  John,  11, 101  note. 
Pretenders    to    the    Norwegian 

throne,  34, 35, 48. 

Promises,  see  vows. 

Proper  names,  Irish,  25. 

"  Prow-boar,"   device    used    in 

naval  warfare,  216. 
Psalter,  276. 
Ptolemaic  theory  of  the  universe, 

Purgatory  of  Saint  Patrick,  110 


HABANUS,    Maurus,    medieval 

scholar    and    writer,    20,    95 

note,  147  note. 
Ram,  siege  engine,  221,  222. 
"  Raven  whale,"  120. 
"  Red  comb,"  a  sort  of  whale, 

122, 123. 

Reindeer  in  Greenland,  145. 
Rhine  River,  27,  28. 
Riant,  Count,  19. 
Right  whale,  121, 123  note. 
Rome,  27,  28,  241. 
Rorqual,  124. 
"  Running  wheel,"  device  used 

in  defending  castles,  223. 

Sachsenspiegel,  8. 

Saddle  for  use  in  warfare,  218, 


Saddleback,  a  sort  of  seal,  140. 
Saint  Edmundsbury,  38. 
Salmon,  109. 
Samuel,  Hebrew  prophet,  326, 

328, 329. 
Sanctuary,  Right  of,  48,  64,  348, 

351-353,  357, 358,  363. 
Satan,  132, 133. 
Saul,  king  of  Israel,  42,  52,53, 

279,  283,  317,  319-322,  325- 



337,  339,340,  344,  347,  357, 

Saxon  lands,  27, 28. 

Scarlet,  181. 

Scherer,W.,  257  note. 

Schoning,  Gerhard,  Norwegian 
scholar,  66,  67. 

Scythes  for  use  in  warfare,  215. 

"  Sea  hedges,"  sea  quakes,  21, 
101, 137, 138. 

Seals,  21, 139, 140, 142, 145. 

Self-control,  The  virtue  of,  231- 

Serpent,  The,  in  Paradise,  252, 
253,  255,  261,  266-270,  272. 

Shabrack,  covering  for  war 
horse,  218. 

Shetlands,  4. 

Shield-giant,  military  contriv- 
ance, 226. 

"  Shield  whale,"  120. 

Shimei,  Biblical  character,  341- 
343, 346, 353. 

Ships,  Care  of,  83-85; 
defense  of,  215-217. 

"Short  seal,"  140. 

"  Shot  wagon,"  device  for  de- 
fending castles,  223,  224. 

Sicily,  17, 30, 127, 130. 

Siege  warfare,  220-226. 

Sigurd  Jerusalemfarer,  Nor- 
wegian king,  28  note,  34. 

Sinai,  Mount,  285. 

Skis,  Running  on,  103, 104. 

Skule,  Norwegian  earl  and  duke, 

Society  for  the  Advancement 
of  Scandinavian  Study,  The, 

Solinus,  19  note. 

Solomon,  Hebrew  king,  46,  47, 

64,   303,    340-354,   357,  358, 

"  Song  of  the  High  One,"  Eddie 

poem,  50. 

Soro,  Danish  city,  66,  67. 
Soro     edition     of     the     King's 

Mirror,    61,    65-68,    70,    120 

Spain,  31. 

"  Spear  whale,"  120. 
Speculum  Ecclesiae,  7. 
Speculum  Majus,  6. 
Speculum  Naturale,  7. 
Speculum  Perfectionis,  7. 
Speculum  Regale,  6-9, 17, 19,  22, 

25,  43,  45,  49,  50,  56,  59,  61, 

66,  68-70,  74,  101  note;    see 

King's  Mirror. 
Speculum  Regis,  8. 
Speculum  Regum,  8. 
Speculum  Stultorum,  7. 
Sperm,  124. 
Sperm  whale,  121. 
Springs,  Marvelous,  107. 
Staff  slings,  213,  215,  221. 
Steenstrup,  I.  Japetus  S.,  Danish 

scientist,  137  note. 
Stephen,  Athenian  judge,  309- 


Stockholm,  82  note. 
Storm,  Gustav,  Norwegian  his- 
torian, 62. 

Strindsea,  Battle  of,  58. 
Suibhne  Geilt,   Irish  legendary 

character,  116  note. 
Sulphur,  Use  of,  in  warfare,  215, 




Sun,  The,  office  of,  87, 300; 

effect  of,  on  the  winds,  87-89, 


changes  hi  the  course  of,  92- 


influence  of,  on  climate,  96-99. 
Surcingle,  218. 
Sverre,  Norwegian  long,  34,  37- 

39, 47, 54-61. 
Sweden,  3, 4, 30, 65. 
Swords   of  kings   and   bishops, 

Sylvester,  pope  and  saint,  241. 

TABLE  service  and  manners,  80, 

Tar,  Use  of,  in  warfare,  225 

Tara,  113  note;  seeThemar. 

Tarquin,  Roman  citizen,  310, 

Thegn,  King's,  61. 

Thegn  money,  168, 171. 

Themar,  Irish  borough,  113-115, 
308, 312, 314. 

Theodoric,  3. 

Theodosius  II,  Roman  emperor, 
316  note. 

Thieves,  The  two,  at  the  cruci- 
fixion, 282,  285. 

Thomas  Aquinas,  medieval  phil- 
osopher and  theologian,  2. 

Tides,  12, 16, 17, 83, 86,  92-94. 

Time,  Divisions  of,  11,  16,  93- 

Tools  for  ship  repairs,  84. 

Topographia  Hibernica  of  Giral- 
dus  Cambrensis,  22,  23. 

Torment,  Places  of,  in  Sicily  and 
Iceland,  130, 131. 

Towers  for  siege  warfare,  215, 

21tf,  221,  225. 
Trebuckets,  siege  engines,  220, 

Trondhjem,  26,  46,  59,  64,  66; 

see  Nidaros. 
Truth,  divine  virgin,  252,  254, 

255,   257-259,  278,  279,  281, 

283,  285,  287, 324. 
Tunis,  31. 
Turnpikes  for  use  in  defensive 

warfare,  223. 

ULSTER,  107  note. 

Unas,  a  Faroese,  37. 

Unger,   Carl  R.,  editor  of  the 

King's  Mirror,  68. 
Ur,  Hebrew  high  priest,  280, 284. 
Uriah,  Hebrew  warrior,  53,  281, 

322-325, 328. 
Utrecht,  28. 

VAAG,  fishing  village  in  Lofoten, 

Valdemar  the  Victorious,  Danish 

king,  3, 4, 31. 
Valladolid,  31. 
Vashti,  Persian  queen,  237,  238, 

240,  243,  244. 
Venomous    animals    unable    to 

live  in  Ireland,  106. 
Vincent  of  Beauvais,  encyclope- 
Volcanic  fires,  17,  21,  126-129, 

130, 131. 
Vows  and  promises,  when  to  be 

kept  and  when  broken,  353- 

Vulgate,  9. 



WADMOL,  cloth  for  sail  repair,  84. 
Walrus,  21, 140, 141. 
"War  beams,"  215. 
Warfare,  Private,  50,  231. 
Weapons  suitable  for  warfare  on 

land,  213,  214,  217-226; 

on  board  ships,  214-217. 
Whalebone,  124. 
Whales,  18,   21,   119-124,   139, 

140, 145. 

White  bears,  143. 
White  whale,  120. 
William,  king's  chaplain,  29,  57. 
William  of  Sabina,  cardinal,  3 1,55. 
Willow,  Miracle  of  the,  112, 113. 
Winds,  Covenant  of  the,  87-89, 


importance  of,  in  navigation, 

159, 160. 

Wisdom,  Source  and  beginning 

of,  77,  78,230,299,  300; 

nature  of,  229-234,  300,  302, 


speech  of,  300-303. 
Woden,  50. 
Wolves,  Men  turned  into,  115; 

in  Greenland,  143. 
Woman  taken  in  adultery,  281, 


YEAR,  Divisions  of  the,  94. 

ZADOC,  Hebrew  priest,  344-347. 
Zenophilus,  Roman  prince,  242- 


Zion  (Gihon),  345. 
Zones  of  heat  and  cold,  15,  16, 

147, 148, 153-155, 162. 







Konungs  Skuggsja 
The  king's  mirror